Last Thursday we celebrated the Ascension of the Lord. Jesus left his disciples but he didn’t abandon them. Since then he has never appeared in a human body, although the Holy Spirit remains among his disciples. It had to happen that way; this was the only way to make mature believers out of the disciples. A few days later the whole group of disciples made its first serious decision: they chose Matthias to take Judas Iscariot’s place – we hear about it in today’s first reading.
Long ago when I was a student in seminary I found the entire spiritual exercises very straight forward: prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, the breviary… I was doing everything right and on time. But during holidays outside the seminary things were very different: I neglected prayer or did it carelessly; I had no time for meditation or spiritual reading. I realised quite soon that my life in the seminary was ordered by a plan of the day. I didn’t have to organize anything, because everything was arranged by the bosses. So, I had to learn self-discipline to keep my spirituality alive during the holidays; I had to plan my time by myself; no one else could do it for me.
The disciples of Jesus were called to become mature leaders two thousand years ago. Similarly Christians are called to become mature leaders in the contemporary world. I don’t mean taking a position of authority (although I would not exclude that). We need to look closely at the experience of the ancient church. They changed the world around them by acts of extraordinary love. The Christians’ way of life astonished their neighbours and friends so much, that they became Christians as well.
When Jesus was about to leave his disciples at the end of his earthly ministry, he ordered them to stay in Jerusalem, and wait for the Holy Spirit. Ten days later the Spirit came. The disciples, who had been fearful, now became fearless witnesses to Jesus, bearing his message to the world.
Most of us have received the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation. That Spirit made us outstanding in the world; not by some unusual spirituality. The Spirit made us outstanding because we love. If we fail to love we are in danger of making the Spirit into a liar. That, of course can never be.