Seventh Sunday of Easter
June 2, 2019
It’s exciting to be in on the ground floor of any new organization. The enthusiasm and fervor of the founders of a business, a social agency, or even a parish committee can be contagious. Hello, I’m Father Greg Friedman, and this is the Sunday Soundbite for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. I’ve had that experience along with the unexpected challenges that come with any new beginnings.
We see that same experience happening in a rather dramatic way in our First Reading today, continuing our Easter accounts of the early Church. The death of the first martyr Stephen, must have been both frightening and galvanizing for the first Christians. Luke wants us to see the parallels with Jesus’ own death. The Church was beginning to realize the reality of what taking up the cross would mean. Were they ready? Could they stand firm in the face of persecution?
The early Church must have taken heart from what John describes in the Gospel today: the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper. Here the Lord prays for those who will have to be “in the world.” They are one with Jesus and with the Father. They can expect that the world will not accept them, even as they witness to Jesus there. But they carry the promise of Jesus, that his love will be in them. And so the apostles, those who would come after them, and we here today, are to take courage in the face of any challenge–however great, however overwhelming—even persecution and death itself.