“Jesus said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father has fixed by His own authority’” (Acts 1:7).
A man named Luke wrote one of the earliest accounts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The Gospel of Luke continues with the story of the Risen Jesus in the Acts of the Apostles. This account confirms how God fulfilled ancient promises to restore His blessings to all nations. Luke’s writing in the Book of Acts reveals the ministry of the early Church. This story is timeless!
God’s plan was always to use the unified family of Abraham to bring peace and justice to the world, but the Exile scattered the chosen people. The kingdom turned upside down with corruption in the Temple. After the Resurrection, Jesus began preparing the disciples for His ascension into heaven. He tells them they must wait for the outpouring of the Spirit of God to empower them for their mission. The ‘new temple’ will become the people of Jesus – little traveling temples sharing a Messianic movement. After Pentecost, a community of believers evolved, they began meeting in homes, and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (see Acts 2:42).
The early Church was a threat to Temple leaders, and the apostles were arrested. The first to be martyred was Stephen, the first deacon who served the early Church. He was accused of being a radical with false teachings and stoned to death. A man named Saul was actively persecuting the believers. His conversion as a follower of Christ is critical to the life of the early Church. His name was changed to Paul, and he became a true disciple.
This brief review of the early Church is timely as we prepare for a much needed Pentecost in our current society. The events of the past few months seem very surreal with our churches closed. The blessing of “live-streamed” Easter services and daily Mass is appreciated, yet challenging for priests and the faithful. The little traveling temples are not permitted to move about and minister to others. Much like the arrested apostles, we feel imprisoned in our own homes. There is little fellowship and few loved ones to break bread with. Do you feel exiled? Remember, God’s plan is always to unify us with His love!
God’s timing is perfect! His infinite patience with the world is proof that His time is not the measure of time we operate with. This period of time is challenging for all of us. We wonder when will we be able to go back to church, school, work, the doctor, optometrist, dentist or any office for that matter? How are you spending your time of isolation? Does the day pass by quickly, or does it slowly weigh you down with anxiety and unproductive activity?
This pandemic quarantine has allowed me to appreciate how much my family and friends mean to me. I don’t believe I took their love for granted, but I sure miss their physical presence and their hugs. And I miss the Eucharist! I spend a lot of time wondering how people will return to their former life. Will we take time to thank God for allowing us to reflect on what is important in life, or will we complain endlessly about all the time wasted in isolation?
I pray every day for the Holy Spirit to rain down fire on the entire world this Pentecost 2020! God’s timing and mercy will be perfectly appointed! I hope our upside-down kingdom will be made right with God again! And I pray there will be millions of mobile temples moving about to spread the Good News of Jesus. Keep soldiering, soldiers! Christ is counting on you! Amen!