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 Holy Spirit's spouse, 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 comprises 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. The Lord's prayer for the unity of believers is the last part (vv. 20–26).
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 to the Holy Spirit, the early believers were united in prayer. Then 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 God's mind (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. 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 a living man).
As we continue the novena to the Holy Spirit, we pray 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]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.