In God’s time, this is the last week in the season of resurrection. It is the last week before Pentecost and we want to find out what this season in God’s time, what it means to us. We want to open the Word of God. We want to understand the mysteries of the Holy Spirit and the “double power.”
But today I want you to begin today thinking – or perhaps remembering – something terrible. A woman has been beaten badly by her husband. She is bruised, broken, maybe even deformed for life. She feels betrayed and humiliated and in pain. Mostly she feels alone. She needs a friend.
That was the situation with Jesus on the cross. He was beaten and broken. He was betrayed by his disciples. Really, he was betrayed by the leadership of the people he came to save – and the disciples witnessed that; they saw Jesus beaten and destroyed, their own betrayal was in their hearts. His wounds, his humiliation became theirs.
Most of us have experienced these times: A woman who wakes to find herself alone with her children, without any means of survival, seriously ill – and her husband is suddenly deported. The system, life itself, has betrayed and beaten her. She feels alone, ready to end her life.
We as a people face this situation in our movement. We had hopes, based on our struggle, that an Obama government would grant us the right to keep our families together, without fear, without hiding – and that promise was broken and we are seeing families torn apart every single day now, 1100 every day…
Yet after the crucifixion comes the Resurrection – but we have to look for it. There is a pastor’s favorite story about the man in the flood. He was alone in his house. They said, the flood is coming, you got to evacuate. He said no, the Lord is going to take care of me. So the water started rising. He got up on his front porch and they sent a boat for him. But he said I don’t need the boat, the Lord is going to take care of me. But the water kept on rising. So he got up on the top of the roof and they sent a helicopter for him. But he said no, no I don’t need the helicopter, the lord is going to take care of me. So he drowned and he went to heaven. He came up in front of St Peter and he said Peter why did the Lord abandon me? Peter said He sent you a car, a boat and a helicopter, what did you expect?
We got to look for the signs of God, the signs of God’s intervention that come in your life: When you are in real trouble, you find a friend that understands, you find a church that will back you up.– those are signs, but you have to look for them.
There have been a lot of signs in our movement. The Leno family, they weren’t supposed to be here but they are here together. The Nunez family, the soldier whose wife was deported to Mexico, they are back together today. Vania and her parents, they just won their extension. That is a sign from God. Alberto Segura: there was no way he was supposed to win his case . But we have seen these signs. Every family that stood up with us, every family that we struggled for as a church and prayed for, they are together, one way or another.
Because we have struggled, we have created some openings for ourselves. The President won’t yet agree to what we have asked him, but the policies are changing. To get that change we have to fight. And to fight we have to see the signs.
One of the signs is that an idea from the past comes back to your mind, something you didn’t pursue then, but now it comes back to you. In the case of the movement, it was the demand for the moratorium. The idea came back to us, why? God put it back in our mind so that we are building the movement this year on the demand for Obama to use his lawful authority to stop the deportations and separation of families. That idea came from God. That idea allowed us the struggle to be resurrected again this year. Those are signs.
In the Biblical story, for 40 days Jesus has been appearing to the disciples. They were discouraged. But they have been given signs that there movement is still alive, signs of the resurrection –and now they must get ready for Pentecost. Recovering time is over.
We read the story of Elisah and Elijah. Elisah was told that if he could watch when Elijah was taken up to heaven, then he would be given the double power.
Today we read the story about the ascension of Jesus. He was eating with the disciples and then he was raised up to heaven like Elijah. The disciples watched him ascend. He was no longer a criminal on the cross, no longer a piece of garbage that they could deport or deny healthcare until he died. He was raised up as the Son of God. They watched that. They were told that the Holy Spirit would come on them. Jesus said that they would do more than he had done, that they would have a “double power.”
But what is the double power? Why should we receive a power greater than the power even of Jesus?
To understand this, to unlock the mystery of Pentecost and the mystery of the Holy Spirit, we look to another scripture: the second last supper.
We remember the last supper, where Jesus told them he would always be with them even though he would be crucified, even though one of them would betray him and all would turn their backs and deny him. That is the meal we celebrate each Sunday in the mass.
The second last supper came, after the crucifixion, and it came by the lake at Galilee. Peter and the disciples had gone back to the jobs they were doing before they met Jesus. They not only had their movement destroyed, their hopes of change destroyed, but they were in real hard economic times, they could not get fish to sell to survive.
Jesus came and called to them in their fishing boat. They did not recognize him. They thought he was dead, along with their hopes. They thought he had left them alone. But Jesus said “put your nets on the other side of the boat.” When they did, then the nets were filled with so many fish they couldn’t believe it Then they recognized Jesus and they came and ate with him.
Suddenly they had enough to survive – and they had the sign of the resurrected Jesus: their hopes for change, for the movement for change, had NOT BEEN DESTROYED.
The lesson of this scripture is ABUNDANCE: that they were not alone. They thought they were, but they were not alone. Remember that Jesus had told the disciples that he would make them fishers of men. This was not only a sign it was a direction. They would be able to survive, they would be able to continue their movement, but they would have to reach out to the people, even to strangers they didn’t kow. They could survive the hard times, but they would have to reach out with the love of Jesus to those around them.
This was a sign that they would be able to keep the movement alive, that the people would respond if they reached out to them, if they continued the ministry of Jesus – even after the crucifixion.
This is the seventh week of resurrection. We don’t see it yet but God sees it. He puts justice and love in the hearts of millions. If we reach out to them, as Jesus did, then they will respond. The enemy tries to make us feel like we are alone and therefore defeated, but the Resurrection teaches us that we are not alone and gives us the courage to reach out to other people.
The commandment of Pentecost, the season we start next week, is that we must reach out to each other and to new people. The meaning of Pentecost is that together we have a greater power. The secret of Pentecost is that if we believe, the Holy Spirit will join us together, will join even strangers together. That’s double power, double the numbers.
The “double power” is the power of abundance of the people. What Jesus did alone, we can do together, with others, with each other, and that power will be many times the power of one.
Now that you have recovered from the beating, don’t worry about that black eye. Don’t worry about the broken nose. Go out and start talking to people. Seek the love and support of your friends, even of strangers. The Holy Spirit is here. If you have courage, even strangers will come to help you. If you find yourself alone, because of the injustice of this system, don’t think about suicide, don’t become more alone. If you have seen the signs of the resurrection, if you have seen the victories that have been won, then reach out yourself. Now that you know God did not abandon you – others will stand with you if you ask them. Others will join with you if you ask them. The hand of the Lord is on you, because the Lord hates robbery and injustice, he hates violence and betrayal, but he loves YOU. You are part of the abundance of the Lord. Knock and the Door will Open. Seek and you will find. What door? The door of your neighbor. Find what? Find your people with you!
Now get ready! Pentecost is coming next week. Get ready to stand up and tell the truth in public. Get ready to speak your heart until someone listens. Offer your heart to others. Stop acting like you are alone. God is bringing a Holy Spirit that will give power to your speech, that will move hearts and give birth to unity – and out of that unity, lives that were damaged will be renewed and be better than you could have ever believed! Get ready for Pentecost. It is coming in God’s time. It is your season, your season to be his people. Amen. Amen. AMEN !