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Sunday, April 27, 2008

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Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Peter 3:15-18
Psalm 66
John 14:15-21

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Peter and John "upon arriving imposed hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit." —Acts 8:17

Near the end of Jesus' public ministry, Samaritans would not allow Jesus and his disciples to pass through their town because they were headed toward Jerusalem. St. John the apostle was indignant. He asked Jesus if he could call down fire from heaven to destroy those Samaritans (Lk 9:52-54). Jesus refused him, rebuking John on the spot (Lk 9:55).

Jesus did eventually allow John to call down fire from heaven onto the Samaritans. The deacon Philip had taken the gospel in power to the unbelieving Samaritans, and they received the word of God (Acts 8:5ff). "When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two...prayed that they might receive the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:15). John laid his hands on those whom he had earlier wished to incinerate, and the fire of God, the Holy Spirit, did fall upon them to consume them with the love of God (Acts 8:17). Jesus gave John his wish, but not in the way John had expected. John had to undergo a bigger conversion than the Samaritans did.

Are there any individuals or groups of people whom you wouldn't mind having God remove from earth? Can you imagine if Jesus eventually used you as His agent to bring these people into new life in the Spirit? If we are to love our enemies, we need that same gut-wrenching conversion John experienced. Repent! Forgive and love your enemies (Lk 6:35). "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:22).

Prayer:  Jesus, send the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn away the hardness in my heart. May I lead thousands to receive the Spirit.

Promise:  "He who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I too will love him and reveal Myself to him." —Jn 14:21

Praise:  Praise the risen Jesus, Who has given us the Spirit of Love to even embrace our enemies!

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, October 23, 2007

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