Sixth Sunday of Easter: Year A

In today’s first reading we meet Samaria and Samaritans. We know generally who they were (though they are a "hot spot" in current study): Samaria was a capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the 9th and 8th centuries, often "in trouble" with the biblical historian of the period for royal crimes related to injustice and worship. That same historian relates that when the people of the general region were deported to Assyria in 721, foreigners ignorant of Yahweh were transplanted to Samaria. It also appears that when the people of Judah returned from their exile in Babylon (6th century) and were rebuilding the temple, Samaritan offers to help were rebuffed. Samaritans are clearly cast as outsiders by the "new Judeans," though they were close enough to the Jews that they shared the first five biblical books. By the time of Jesus, tensions had compounded, as we hear in the story of the Samaritan woman (John 4). More than three strikes against Samaritans! But the aftermath of that conversation shares with today’s story a surprising datum: When prompted by good preaching (Jesus and Philip), intense prayer (Peter, John) and the Holy Spirit (advocacy), Samaritans became believers, unpromising though they might have appeared. My question is not about them so much as about us, or myself. When, contrary to expectation, something extraordinary and positive seems to happen--ne’er-do-wells responding with joy and gratitude to the post-Easter preaching--can we credit it as the work of the Holy Spirit? When I like an outcome, I have no trouble doing so; when I do not have confidence in or respect for an event, I withhold credit from the Holy Spirit. Do recent stadiums full of fervent papal fans testify to the presence of the Holy Spirit? Do they imply Holy Spirit approval of, influence in the way the Church is being led? Or is that the wrong question? What does the gospel suggest the Holy Spirit advocates for: our sense of unity with the triune God and with each other. In that I have confidence. Barbara Green, O.P.
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

 10.17.2018 Pope Francis greets Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago before a session of the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith and vocational discernment at the Vatican Oct. 16. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
“We take people where they are, walking with them, moving forward,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 20, 2018
Catherine Pakaluk, who currently teaches at the Catholic University of America and holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, describes her tweet to Mr. Macron as “spirited” and “playful.”
Emma Winters October 19, 2018
A new proposal from the Department of Homeland Security could make it much more difficult for legal immigrants to get green cards in the United States. But even before its implementation, the proposal has led immigrants to avoid receiving public benefits.
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 19, 2018
 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then nuncio to the United States, and then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, are seen in a combination photo during the beatification Mass of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J., Oct. 4, 2014. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
In this third letter Archbishop Viganò no longer insists, as he did so forcefully in his first letter, that the restrictions that he claimed Benedict XVI had imposed on Archbishop McCarrick—one he alleges that Pope Francis later lifted—can be understood as “sanctions.”
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 19, 2018