Readings: Acts 18:23-28, Ps. 47:2-3,8-10, John 16:23-28

“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.” (John 16:23)

Today’s Gospel passage continues Jesus’ sermon on the world’s hatred of his disciples. (John 15:18ff). As disciples of Jesus, we are at the receiving end of the continuous hatred that brought Jesus Christ to the Cross of Calvary. However, Jesus has not left us alone to suffer; the Holy Spirit is there to help us. (Cf. John 16:7). Hence, Jesus describes Him as a Counsellor, the Spirit of truth who inspires and reveals things that Jesus could not say during His time on earth and even those things that will happen in the future. (Cf. John 16:13).

Apart from the Holy Spirit’s comfort, Jesus (in yesterday’s Gospel passage) mentions another great help to surviving the world’s hatred: Knowing that our sorrow will not last forever. Pain is easier to bear when we can read its meaning. A woman would “gladly” endure labour pains because she knows she would soon have a child. The joy of seeing her child makes her forget the pain. Regardless of what the world throws at us, let us focus on the crown of glory that awaits us.

Today, Jesus reveals the third strategy for dealing with the world’s hatred: Prayer. We often sing: “Prayer is the key. Prayer is the Key. Prayer is the master key. Jesus started with prayer and ended with prayer. Prayer is the master key.” Prayer is the key to unlocking happiness amid the troubles that must come our way if we obey God’s commandments in a world that prefers darkness to light. Let us now consider the lessons contained in today’s readings:

1. Prayer is The Antidote For Sorrow: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says: “Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (John 16:23-24). Prayer brings joy; it is both spiritual and therapeutic. Prayer helps to offload your burdens, calm your nerves and relieve your fears. Appreciate prayer because it can bring you the things you desire and because prayer (itself) is good for you. If a problem shared is a problem half-solved, prayer is sharing your problems with the only person who can truly solve them.

2. We Must Pray Because God is King of All the Earth: Today’s Psalm (like yesterday) sings: “God is King of All the Earth.” When Jesus speaks of the world’s hatred, one is tempted to wonder if the world belongs to the devil. After all, good people tend to die early, but wicked people continue living, worsening their evil deeds daily. However, the truth is that God is still king of all the earth. This is why prayer remains a key for us Christians. By surrendering your problems to God, who is bigger than the world and in control of everything, you know that your troubles will be over shortly.

3. Don’t Just Pray; Be Expectant: The hardest part of prayer is not uttering the words; it is trusting that God has heard you and is working something out for you. Many people pray, but only a few pray well; that is, pray with expectation. Prayer should excite you like a child whose parents have just promised something. Often, even while praying, we hear this voice in our hearts that questions the rationality of our prayer. It reminds us of instances when we prayed for something but did not get it, but it never reminds us of the times when prayer worked wonders. Next time you hear this negative voice, repeat Jesus’ words in today's Gospel passage: “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23)  

4. As Missionaries, We Must Be Prayerful and Humble (Open to Instructions): Today's First Reading is about a Jew named Apollos. He was eloquent and well-versed in the scriptures even though he was not properly catechised. Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and “expounded to him the way of God more accurately.” With this, Apollos helped other believers at Ahaia and confuted the Jews in public concerning Jesus Christ. Like Apollos, there are many so-called preachers today who think they know the Bible but go about confusing and even misleading their audience. To be a mechanic, you need years of training under the guidance of an experienced mechanic. This goes for all other professions. Some people wake up one morning and say, “God has spoken to me.” Next thing, they have started a church. God told you to start a church, but did He say you should not go for training? Why do you think you don’t need to learn from anyone else or subject yourself to supervision?

Let us pray: Come, O Holy Spirit, fill our hearts, and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Remember, amid all challenges, choose to be happy. Live with a positive mindset and believe in God’s plan for you. God bless you abundantly. (Saturday of the 6th week of Eastertide. Bible Study: Acts 18:23-28, Ps. 47:2-3,8-10, John 16:23-28).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu