Grace to you and Happy Easter!
We have journeyed through six weeks of the Resurrection. During this last (seventh) week of Easter, the Church invites us to reflect on (and do) what the early Church, the first witnesses of the resurrection did namely, to keep a novena. See how Acts of the Apostles 1:14 describes it: “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
The right disposition in this last week of the celebration of Easter is to keep a novena. We know “the devout prayer” of the disciples numbering about one hundred and twenty people, lasted for nine days before the Holy Spirit came on the Pentecost. Hence we have the name novena prayer. Novena is from Latin, which means nine.
Mother Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, who was with the apostles and disciples during the first Christian novena, will accompany us in our prayer. Journeying with her is the best.
In John 17, the Lord Jesus prayed intensely. This prayer is called “the Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. Unlike the Lord’s Prayer, during which the Lord showed us how to pray, this prayer is the actual dialogue between Jesus and the Father.
According to The Navarre Bible Commentary on Saint John’s Gospel (2005), the Priestly Prayer consists of three parts. The first part (1–5) contains Jesus’ prayer for “the glorification of his holy human nature and the acceptance, by the Father of his sacrifice on the cross.” The second part (vv. 6–19) is the Lord’s Prayer for his disciples, the future witnesses to his glory. And the last part (vv. 20–26) is the Lord’s prayer for the unity of believers.
In describing the importance of this prayer of Jesus, Saint Augustine reminds us it is also about the Lord showing us how to pray. Prayer, therefore, is an essential aspect of our spiritual life. The Church gathered in assembly is the Church united to pray, anointed and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
During the first Novena, which we started on Friday after Ascension Thursday (see my reflection for Ascension Thursday here), believers were so united in prayer; hence the Holy Spirit visited them as a Church. Recall the Lord tells us where two or three are gathered in his name, he will be there in their midst (Mt 18:20).
Our prayers are most effective if we invite the Holy Spirit to accompany us as we pray, because He is the one who knows the mind of God (1 Cor 2:11). This Spirit is of unity and peace. His coming is to bring order and peace to humans who are not fully living in the grace of glory, since God’s glory is manifested when we are “fully living.” As one of the foremost theologians of the Church, Saint Irenaeus, stated: “Gloria Dei est vivens homo” (The Glory of God is living man).
I pray, as we continue the novena to the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, may fill our hearts with the Love of the Father and the Son. May He revitalize the graces we have been given so we will be truly aglow for God. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Seventh Sunday of Easter: Acts 1:12-14; 1 Pt 4:13-16; Jn 17:1-14A]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.