This weekend is Saturday the 24th and Sunday the 25th of May, beginning the Sixth Week of Easter.

The monks of Glenstal Abbey sing a psalm of praise: ‘Sing to the Lord, alleluia.  Sing to the Lord, bless his name, tell of his salvation from day to day, alleluia.  Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.’

Over the past week, we have heard the “farewell discourses” of Jesus from John’s Gospel. These passages are important because they show the way that Jesus prepares his followers for a time – after his death, his resurrection and his ascension – when he will be present among them in a new and different way, with the coming of the Holy Spirit. They are packed with meaning and with “message”.  Jesus speaks about making his home in us, and about us “abiding” in him.  He talks about giving us a kind of peace the world does not give.  He calls us “friends” and “chosen” and tells us – in fact, commands us – to love each other.

Which of these words, which of these messages struck a chord with you, touched you, seemed meaningful to you?   Did any of them?  What have you noticed about your reaction to these readings this week?  Does that tell you anything about yourself, or about what God might be trying to say to you?

Today we hear more about the coming of the Spirit in this reading from the Acts of the Apostles:

One of the interesting things about this short passage is that it describes a two-stage process that the people of Samaria go through: it doesn’t happen all in one go.  First, with Philip, there is a kind of preparatory stage, a preparing of the ground, and then, when the people seem ready, Peter and John arrive to pray for them to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit.  Does that reflect, in any way, your own life, and your own experience of God?   - the way “conversion” does not happen all at once?  - that God does not come upon us all in one go, but leads us through stages, gradually preparing the ground in us?

For the sacramentally-minded, there’s a very explicit connection here, too, with Baptism and Confirmation – Baptism, an initial stage in accepting God’s offer of new life, and Confirmation, the receiving of the fullness of God’s Spirit.  If you have experience of those sacraments – your own baptism and confirmation, or one you remember attending – did you make that connection with the preparing of the ground and the receiving of the Holy Spirit in its fullness?  Can you make that connection when you reflect on it now?

As you hear the reading again, see if you can make that connection with what is described here and the sacraments, or conversions, or Christian initiations that you have witnessed.

It’s striking how straightforward and effective Peter and John’s prayer is here – they pray for the people of Samaria to receive the Holy Spirit, and it happens.   For us, too, if it is our desire to be filled with the fullness of God’s Spirit, we only have to ask.  Is that your desire?  Whatever it is you want to ask, whatever it is you want to say to God, whose Spirit is present here now, just say it.