Homily — 7th Sunday Easter MMVIII May 4, 2008

Homily — 7th Sunday Easter MMVIII                  May 4, 2008

We are given a beautiful image today in the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Jesus has just Ascended into Heaven, and the Apostles come down the mountain and return to Jerusalem to the Upper Room they were staying in — the same Room they celebrated the Last Supper in, the same room the Risen Jesus appeared to them in on Easter Sunday night.

And what I find beautiful about this passage is that the Apostles went and assembled all of Jesus’ disciples in that Upper Room, and together they all prayed for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit.

When we think of how big the Church is today, with over a billion Catholics all over the world — back then all those who followed Jesus could fit in a Church the size of ours.  And as we see in the First Reading, they not only could come together to pray, they did come together those days before Pentecost.

And even though we can’t physically all get together any more as a Church, in a special way these days leading up to next Sunday we should all be spiritually united in praying for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church this Pentecost.

Also in today’s First Reading, we hear Jesus’ disciples being referred to as “the brothers of Jesus”.   St. Luke isn’t here referring to Jesus’ cousins, who are sometimes called Jesus’ brothers.  That’s certain here at least, because the next verse says that their were one hundred and twenty brothers of Jesus in the upper room that day!

And I may be mistaken, but I think this is the first time in Scripture that the Disciples of Jesus start calling themselves “Brothers”.   Jesus told them earlier in the Sermon on the Mount Call no man Father, you have one Father who is in Heaven and you are all brothers.  But it’s not until that day in the Upper Room that it begins to sink in and stick.

And I think I know why the Apostles and the holy women and the other disciples started to call themselves “Brothers and Sisters” at that time.   It was because Mary was with them in the Upper Room.    All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer with . . . . Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

Mary helped them, by her words and by her example, to realize that through the grace of their Baptism, Almighty God truly was their loving Father who was with them every moment; it wasn’t just some pious platitude.   Just as Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, his followers were adopted Sons and Daughters through Baptism, with all the entitlement and rights and privileges Jesus had in His Father’s eyes.

But up there in that Upper Room, the disciples of Jesus started realizing something else as well.  They weren’t just brothers and sisters because they all had the same Spiritual Father, they were also brothers and sisters because they all had the same Spiritual Mother!   For we disciples of Jesus are siblings on our Mother’s side as well.

Because from the Cross on Good Friday, Jesus pointed to Mary and said to us “Here is Your Mother” and He pointed to us and said to Mary, “Woman, here is your Son.”   And from that hour, we not only had God for our Father,  but we also had Mary for our Mother.

And this whole month of May we want to thank Jesus in a special way for giving us Mary to be our Mother, who is always looking over us and helping us follow her Son.

This week, may we follow the example of the brothers and sisters in the upper room, and spend some quality time with our Mother Mary, fervently praying along with Her, that Her Son may pour out His Holy Spirit in power this coming Pentecost Sunday.

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