Sunday Bible Reflections
Our God is a consuming fire, the Scriptures tell us (see Hebrews 12:29; Deuteronomy 4:24). And in this week’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of fire to describe the demands of discipleship.
The fire He has come to cast on the earth is the fire that He wants to blaze in each of our hearts. He made us from the dust of the earth (see Genesis 2:7) and filled us with the fire of the Holy Spirit in Baptism (see Luke 3:16).
In this week’s First Reading, Elijah’s disciple is allowed to kiss his parents goodbye before setting out to follow the prophet’s call.
But we are called to follow a “greater than Elijah”, this week’s Liturgy wants us to know.
At the dawn of salvation history, God revealed our future in figures. That’s what’s going on in today’s First Reading: A king and high priest comes from Jerusalem (see Psalm 76:3), offering bread and wine to celebrate the victory of God’s beloved servant, Abram, over his foes.
By his offering, Melchizedek bestows God’s blessings on Abram. He is showing us, too, how one day we will receive God’s blessings and in turn “bless God”—how we will give thanks to Him for delivering us from our enemies, sin and death.
In today’s Liturgy we’re swept through time in glorious procession—from before earth and sky were set in place to the coming of the Spirit upon the new creation, the Church.
We begin in the heart of the Trinity, as we listen to the testimony of Wisdom in today’s First Reading. Eternally begotten, the first-born of God, He is poured forth from of old in the loving delight of the Father.
The giving of the Spirit to the new people of God crowns the mighty acts of the Father in salvation history.
The Jewish feast of Pentecost called all devout Jews to Jerusalem to celebrate their birth as God’s chosen people in the covenant Law given to Moses at Sinai (see Leviticus 23:15–21; Deuteronomy 16:9–11).
In today’s First Reading the mysteries prefigured in that feast are fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit on Mary and the Apostles (see Acts 1:14).
In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke gives the surprising news that there is more of the story to be told. The story did not end with the empty tomb, or with Jesus’ appearances to the Apostles over the course of forty days. Jesus’ saving work will have a liturgical consummation. He is the great high priest, and he has still to ascend to the heavenly Jerusalem, there to celebrate the feast in the true Holy of Holies.
Jesus is praying for us in today’s Gospel. We are those who have come to believe in Him through the Word of the Apostles, handed on in His Church.
Jesus showed the Apostles His glory, and made known the Father’s name and the love He has had for us from “before the foundation of the world.”