Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
Challenging times can either pull us apart or bring us together…
In today’s reading we see that the family and friends of Jesus have come together in mutual support, and in prayer. They have just been through some amazing events: from the pain of Jesus’ crucifixion, to the unbelievable joy of his resurrection, and now they were dealing with both a sense of loss and amazement, as well as a great responsibility, in the light of Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven!
Given the task of carrying on Jesus’ ministry here in the world, and dealing with things they cannot understand, it is not hard to imagine that the disciples and Jesus’ family were feeling just a bit overwhelmed, and needed to gather together prayer and support in order to gain strength for their mission!
They knew that the road was not going to be an easy one, and that there would be many challenges to face, and they may have been feeling just a bit uncertain about whether or not they were up to the task of making Christ known in the world.
When I try to imagine how the followers of Jesus felt there in that upstairs room, it kind of reminds me of the way I was feeling when I first found myself as a single parent…
I remember, after spending the day moving into my new apartment, with my daughter finally asleep in her new bedroom, I sat down in the big easy chair in my new living room, and I began to think about my new life, and the new responsibilities that I was facing, and I completely broke down! In that moment I felt all alone in the world, I even felt disconnected from God; but then, in the midst of my loneliness I heard sounds coming from the other apartments in the house, and realized that I was NOT alone, that only a few feet away there were people in the midst of their own lives.
And in the days and months to come, I realized even more that I was not alone, as friends and family came to my aid. My church offered me solace, and a place to go where I felt I belonged, and I also made connections with the other parents at my daughter’s daycare, and my mother, brothers and sister all helped me to get through the hard times.
As Christians, this is what we are called to do: to be there for each other, in tough times as well as in good times, to gather in prayer and support, sharing in God’s great love for us; to strengthen each other for our own missions as we too strive to make Christ known in the world – whether it is through a ministry of the church, joining others in worship, raising our children, helping those in need, or just by treating others with care and compassion.
Just as it was for the followers of Jesus in today’s reading, we too need each other, to help us through the hard times, to share the good times, and to learn, and grow in our faith…for it is when we come together in love and support that Christ is truly in our midst, and we are able make Christ known to our world and to our children!
Let us Pray
God, thank you for your constant presence in our lives and in our world. Thank you for the love and grace you share with us as we gather together in your name. Help us to support each other in our faith, and to give each other strength for our mission in the world: not only to shine the light of Christ into the darkness that can sometimes invade our lives, but also to raise our children to be decent and compassionate people, carriers of your message of love to the world.