Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Today is the fifth Sunday after Easter. Next Sunday we will conclude the Easter season with the celebration of the Ascension, an event that our Lord mentions in the text for today. "I went out from the Father, and I came into the world: again I leave the world, and I go to the Father."
But, there are other topics in our text. First, the power of the Word of God, and, second, the efficacy of prayer in the name of Jesus.
Let us understand "Word of God" in three senses. First, in the Holy Bible, the Word written by the prophets and the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is the testimony of what God has said and done in this world, teachings that we can not know or understand by our own reason. The Word of God is also that which the Bible reveals, the promise of eternal life for those who believe in Jesus Christ, and in the Old Testament, the books written before the birth of Jesus, the promise of the Savior of the world. In addition, the Word of God means a person, which St. John says in the first few verses of his gospel was in the beginning with God and was God. All things through Him were made, and without Him nothing that was made was made. Then He was made flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth. This person is Jesus Christ.
After the prophets, Jesus was the last messenger of God, and He is the message. The whole Bible points to Christ. In this way we know Christ, when he does not dwell among us in visible form, in the testimony of the Scriptures. As Isaiah says in our Old Testament reading (Isaiah 5: 6-11), "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; And turn to the Lord, who will have mercy on him, and our God, who will be full of forgiveness. " Today we find the Lord where His written Word is preached; Also His body and blood in the Holy Supper. That is, in the church where the Word is preached and the sacraments are administered.
Where does the power of preaching and the sacraments come from? From the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his disciples when he wouldleave this world, He would send the Holy Spirit to help the church in its mission. After the Ascension, then, we will celebrate Pentecost, the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church.
"These things I have spoken to you in proverbs: the hour cometh when I will no more speak unto you by proverbs, but I will plainly tell you of the Father." Before His death and resurrection, people had no concrete evidence of Christ's power, so He spoke in parables or symbolic accounts. After Christ fulfilled all and the Spirit came to illuminate His teachings, there is no need to speak in parables.
"Until now you have asked nothing in my name: ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be fulfilled ... On that day you will ask in my name: and I do not say to you, that I will pray the Father for you."
The name of the fifth Sunday after Easter in Latin is Rogate, from which is derived the Spanish word, "to pray." In many parts of the world, this Sunday coincides with the rains of spring. That is why, as Isaiah says, "For as the rain descends from the heavens and snow, and does not return there, but fills the earth, and causes it to germinate and produces, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the one who eats ; So shall my word be that cometh out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me empty, but it shall do as I will, and it shall prosper in that which I sent it. "
The Word is like the rain that renews the soil for the harvest. We listen to this Word not only in the sermon, but throughout the liturgy, to memorize for difficult times. But as James says in the epistle (James 1: 22-27), "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." The Word acts in our hearts and lives through the power of the Spirit Holy. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, the sanctification or transformation of our lives.
This work of sanctification includes prayer. We can only present our petitions and thanksgiving to God for our faith in Jesus Christ. Let us receive the gift of faith in baptism by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit continues to grow faith in us and we grow in prayer as well. Christ obtained redemption from us in His death and resurrection. God the almighty Father sent the Son for this purpose, and then the Father and the Son sent the Spirit to bear the fruits of faith in our lives. Therefore, we have the hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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