Monday of the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time
(Acts 16:11-15; John 15:26-16:4)
Jews have been persecuted so much throughout history that it is hard to imagine them persecuting others. Yet this is the claim of Palestinians who say that Israelis occupied their land after World War II and continue taking it today on the West Bank. It is also the charge of Jesus in the gospel who foresees the eviction of Christians from Jewish synagogues in the latter part of the first century.
Christian Jews prayed alongside other Jews for almost forty years after the crucifixion. Evidently they looked on one another something like contemporary Charismatics from various Christian denominations praying in the churches of their childhood on Sunday morning but coming together at other times for meetings featuring the Holy Spirit. Regular Jews accepted the diversity of belief in the synagogues until the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. catalyzed a reform. Then they systematically expelled Christian Jews from their midst with the charge that Christians adulterated worship with teachings about Jesus. In today’s gospel Jesus refers to the expulsion proceedings when he says that he will send the Advocate to testify that Christians truly worship God.
This Advocate, more literally “the Paraclete,” is the Holy Spirit who remains with the Church always. Today we might discern its presence in the Church’s consistent sexual ethic despite society’s acceptance of immoral practices like premarital cohabitation.