Commentary on the Gospel of
Today is the feast of St. John XXIII, a dearly loved Pope known well by many of us older folk. Initially, John, because of his advanced age, was expected to be an interim Pontiff, but he surprised all (and I’d guess also himself) by calling for and opening the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II had the effect of “throwing open the windows” of the church to breathe new and fresh air to use John's own image. The council sought to open our windows, doors, and eyes to the work of the Holy Spirit moving gracefully in our midst.
Saint John asked judicially that the church open itself to the working of the Holy Spirit in our times by basing herself in continuity with Catholicism’s past. Looking back at our history propelled the members of the council to discover what our present and future holds for us. Meeting in four sessions (1962-1965) the members, over 2,000 Bishops and many non-voting observers/specialists put new emphasis on the Church; two of the major documents dealt with the church, its nature and its calling in today’s world.
Coincidentally today’s readings from scripture align themselves with the work that Pope John brought to light through Vatican II. The kind of prayer St. Luke’s gospel points to is that we be faithful to personal prayer. We are to “persistently” (Luke’s word) ask a gracious God for the gifts that he desires to give us as individuals and as church: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.”
The church has much these days to bring to the attention of God as well as to ourselves. The sexual abuse by clergy, the divisions that plague us in the “one” holy and apostolic church of which each of us is a part, and the persistent and ongoing struggles with our own conversion to. Each of us is invited to seek diligently the Holy Spirit of God. God’s Spirit calls us continually to find our bearings in Her/Him.
From God’s perspective we are the apple of his eye who, as a good father, desires more for us than we can even imagine. Our gospel recognizes the God of us all, the giver of all gifts gives “the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” What an incredibly refreshing thought!
God of us all, keep us faithful to your word and your desires for us. Be with us as we negotiate difficulties and send us your Holy Spirit as our guide for prayer and actions in your service. Watch over us with your gentle care that produces both challenge and joy; thank you for the eyes of faith, hope and love.