May 14, 2023
Bishop Mike Fisher conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation upon 52 teen and adult candidates from five parishes in our Family and from two parishes in other Families, here, in our church on Monday. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an early Pentecost event. Our English word “spirit” comes from the Hebrew word “ruah” meaning “breath” or “wind” of God. Jesus uses this word in his conversation with Nicodemus. “The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) But Jesus uses a different word in reference to the Spirit of God in chapter 14 verse 16 of John’s Gospel. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another “Paraclete” to be with you always…” “Paraclete” is a Greek word meaning: “Advocate” or “Counselor” or “Comforter” or “Lawyer” with the connotation of “being at one’s side.” It is not easily translated into one word. When biblical scholars attempted to translate the New Testament into the Kare language, an isolated tribe of people in Africa, there was no one word to translate “paraclete.” But the translators noticed something in the life of the tribe. When the group went on a long journey, each member would carry a bundle of provisions except one person. He or she would step in to help when someone became tired and fell down from exhaustion. That person was called, “one who falls down beside us.” Translators used that expression to translate “paraclete” and catch the nuance in what Jesus is saying about the Holy Spirit.
Jesus promises to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to comfort and to strengthen his disciples. On the anniversary of the mass shooting at the TOPS on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo, we beseech Jesus to ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to heal the pain of so many whose lives have been shattered by senseless acts of hatred, racism, and violence. We make this our prayer on a day when we honor and show our affection for Mothers.
Mother’s Day can be traced back to Julia Ward Howe. She was a prominent American abolitionist, feminist, poet, and the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” She nursed and tended the wounded during the civil war and worked with the widows and orphans of Union and Confederate soldiers, realizing that the effects of the war go far beyond the killing of soldiers in battle. The devastation she witnessed during the civil war inspired her to call out for women to “rise up through the ashes and devastation,” urging a Mother’s Day dedicated to peace. Julia Ward Howe appealed to women of the world in a Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace back in 1870.
On this Mother’s Day 2023 let us recapture the original intention espoused by Julia Ward Howe. May we pray and work for peace, for healing, and for the lessening of violence in our society.
5th Sunday of Easter
Ascension of the Lord