HOMILY FOR THE SEVENTH (7TH) SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A (1)
HOMILY THEME: LET’S GO TO THE UPPER ROOM
By: Fr. Johnbosco Obika
Last Thursday we celebrated the ascension of the Lord. In this week we shall be preparing for the manifestation of the great promise of Jesus. The disciples watched him as he pierced the skies and vanished from their sight. Two angels appeared to them and asked them not to keep looking at the sky. This does not mean they should not pay attention to things above where Jesus had ascended. It means that that they should keep their minds above and their eyes around to see the work waiting for them; to carry out the missionary mandate to go out to the whole world and make disciples of all nations. They had to leave the Mount of Olive and continue what Jesus has started.
They went to the Upper Room and stayed together in prayer. In that air of uncertainty, they did not know what the future had for them. The question they asked Jesus just before his ascension shows that the events that were happening around Jesus were still not clear to them (they were still hoping for the earthly restoration of the kingdom of Israel). Jesus knew this and he promised another an Advocate who would make everything clear to them and show them the direction to go in his absence. In the Upper Room prayed together waiting on God. Mary was with them and other women in union of prayer. This was in imitation of their master who prayed before any task he undertook. Prayer was a necessary preparation for every important event in the life of Jesus. Whenever Jesus entered into prayer, he came out with results. Before the beginning of his public ministry he fasted and prayed for 40 days and nights. The result was overcoming temptation of the devil (Matt. 4:1-11). On the Mount of Transfiguration while he was praying, he was transfigured and suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared. The result was the strengthening the faith of the apostles in Jesus and hope in reward of heaven ((Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36). Before he entered into his passion, at Gethsemane, he prayed and the result was he was given the strength to undergo his passion (Matt. 26:36-56).
Prayer is not barren, prayer is always fruitful. There was a businessman and admirer of a woman named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu an Albanian missionary (now Saint Teresa of Calcutta) who offered to make a set of “business cards” for her charity work. Imprinted on the small yellow cards, are five lines which outline the direction and the sum of what Mother Teresa calls her simple path. The cards read: “The fruit of silence is PRAYER. The fruit of prayer is FAITH. The fruit of faith is LOVE. The fruit of love is SERVICE. The fruit of service is PEACE”.
There is something about the Upper Room. In the New Testament, whenever the apostles enter the Upper Room, they never came out the same, they came out totally new and empowered. Before the death of Jesus, during the last supper, they entered the Upper Room with Jesus and came out as ministers of the Eucharist, as priests of the new and eternal covenant. After the ascension, they entered the Upper Room again. There they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. They came out with fresh zeal, unflinching courage and new enthusiasm.
Obviously, most of us are like the disciples of Jesus who appeared to lack vision, direction and hope. We are faced with fear of the next bad news. Some of us have lost zeal and enthusiasm for the faith due to some events in life that we find difficult to understand. Now it is Upper Room time again, the Pentecost week. A time we refuel our lives with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we like the disciples pray and share in the word of God in the Cenacle of our churches, our Upper Rooms, we shall be restored, renewed and rebranded by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day.
Do not be left out.
PRAYER IS NOT BARREN!