A SEASON OF JOY
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42). This first line of today’s first reading sets the tone as this fifty-day celebration of Easter opens before us. Today we listen to the teachings of three apostles—Luke, Peter, and John—who remind us that even though we have not seen Christ, we nonetheless are filled with joy as we place our belief in his saving death and resurrection.
Each week during the Easter season we will gather as a community of faith to find strength and support from our God and from one another. Each week we will gather to break bread and offer the great prayer of thanksgiving, actions that will manifest the very presence of the risen Christ in our midst. Let us be open to the wonders of this season of joy.
The origins of the custom of burning a lamp before the tabernacle are in Jewish worship, where a lamp called ner tamid or “eternal flame” burns before the ark in every synagogue. The ark contains the sacred scrolls of the Torah. The flame represents the menorah in the Temple, and therefore is never extinguished. In fact, the word “tabernacle” itself is derived from Hebrew, as taber is the Hebrew word for “tent,” and hearkens back to the forty years of wandering in the desert. The pilgrim people were sustained in hope by an awareness that God was not only in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, but had quite literally “pitched his tent with them” in the shelter for the Ark of the Covenant. Some artisans have used this theme of “ark” or “tent” to design a tabernacle for the Blessed Sacrament.
In Christian practice, Anglicans and Catholics use a sanctuary lamp to point toward the presence of the reserved sacrament, and Lutherans use it as a sign of God’s presence in the house of worship, but not necessarily as a clue that the Eucharist is reserved. Why, even in an age of electric light, is the sanctuary lamp an oil light or candle? Perhaps not only to point to Christ, the light of the world, but also to point to sacrifice. For the light to exist, there must be sacrifice. The oil or wax is transformed into light, just as those who pray here, or who will receive viaticum from here, are called to transformation in Christ.
A Prayer to the Spirit
Realize above all that you are in God's presence ... empty yourself completely and sit waiting, content with the grace of God, like a chick who tastes nothing and eats nothing but what its mother gives it. - St. Romuald
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Spirit of Jesus, poured out in flames of fire upon your disciples on the day of Pentecost, we pray to you.
Set afire the hearts of your faithful so that they will announce in all the languages of the world the wonders of the salvation of God.