The Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You!
5/30/22 Gospel Reflection
The Acts of the Apostles is such a rich theological text. The faithful are fortunate the Church chooses Acts to be read during the Easter season. It is an undervalued text that is naturally overshadowed by the gospels and the breadth of St. Paul’s letters. Nonetheless, biblical scholars in recent years have proposed that the Acts of the Apostles shouldn’t be read as singular text but read as one complete narrative unit with the Gospel of Luke. A critical feature in both Luke and Acts is geography. Biblical scholar Luke Timothy Johnson explains, “In the Gospel, Luke moves the narrative toward Jerusalem. In Acts, the geographical movement is, in the most obvious sense, away from Jerusalem.”
Geography plays a vital role in how Luke wants to tell his story of Jesus and the early Church. Today’s first reading from the Acts of Apostles is no different. Paul is moving “through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus.” The Luke/Acts narrative is a testament to the Christian journey aided by the Holy Spirit in which the early Church led by Peter and Paul proclaimed the good news to the ends of the world.
But what is the faithful to make of this passage with the narrative as a whole? In all its diversity of its expression of the Christian movement, the early Church collectively centered on the term “gospel” as the unifying marker for the Church in its earliest days. Why? The religious language of the surrounding ancient Near East religions focused on an inner movement within itself. The early Christians adopted the term “Good News” because at its salvific foundation, from the Cross to the empty tomb, Christianity is a religion meant for public space.
Now, take a look at the entire passage of Acts 19: 1-17. The text describes what some scholars refer to as a ‘mini-Pentecost.’ In the selected passage, some variation of “Lord Jesus” occurs in reference to baptism three times. Our baptism in the Lord Jesus is where we truly become adopted Sons and Daughters of the Father. Our Lord Jesus is the unique way to salvation; it does not come from other religions. It certainly does not come from humanity. Those who sincerely search for God, by the teachings of Vatican II, may be saved, but we cannot depend on it, as Lumen Gentium 16 clearly explains, because the Evil One seeks to deceive all:
But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”
Our job as the pilgrim Church, by our confirmation in which the Holy Spirit came upon us is to reject the modern notion of private and personal religion and take up public space and proclaim, “Jesus is Lord!” Amen.
 Luke Timothy Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, ed. Daniel J. Harrington, vol. 5, Sacra Pagina Series (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992), 10.
 Lumen Gentium 14.
 Catholic Church, “Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium,” in Vatican II Documents (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011).