St. Philip Neri, Priest
Acts 18:9-18 + John 16:20-23
May 26, 2017
“But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
Jesus uses the imagery of pregnancy to describe suffering in relation to joy, as both pertain to Jesus’ Resurrection and His sending (with the Father) the Gift of the Holy Spirit. While it’s a truism of our culture that any goal worth achieving demands hardship, the image of pregnancy is more pregnant with meaning. The image of pregnancy connotes new life: a life independent of the life that came before, yet owing its existence to the one who begot it.
How do we relate this to the Resurrection and Pentecost? What is the new life begotten? It is the life of the Church. If you ask most people in the world—Christians and non-Christians alike—what the greatest Christian feast day is, they would likely reply “Christmas”. That’s the correct answer if one asks the question in terms of money and energy spent preparing for and celebrating the day. But liturgically, Easter Sunday is far more important than Christmas Day, a truth we can sum up with the saying that “The reason Jesus was born into this world was to die to this world.”
However, just as the meaning of Christmas points forward to Easter Sunday, so Easter Sunday points forward to Pentecost. Pentecost is not more significant liturgically than Easter Sunday, but nonetheless Easter prepares us for Pentecost: for the ‘birth’ of the Church, the Bride of Christ and the Mystical Body of Christ.