We are in the middle of the novena of prayer between the Ascension and Pentecost, gathered around Our Lady and waiting for the promise of the Father. You might say it is a time of gestation – a time of hope, like that which a mother experiences while waiting for the child in her womb to develop. This novena is a time for our hope to deepen, and the Church, like a loving mother, nourishes this hope by immersing it in the prayer of Jesus, giving us certainty from the Scriptures that our hopes will be fulfilled.
The prayer of Jesus to the Father is a reason for hope: he wants us to be with him where he is; he wants us to see his glory; he wants us to be one, even as he and his Father are one; and he wants the whole world to know that the Father loves us even as he loves Jesus. It is mind-boggling! If we will allow these words of Jesus to permeate our hearts, our hope will grow, because we know that what Jesus asks of his Father will not go unanswered.
But our hope cannot grow, cannot even exist, without “the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” But we have to cooperate with this grace. And we know for certain that our hopes will be fulfilled, because God has shown us in advance how he will fulfill our desires in his beloved Son.
When he appeared after his resurrection, Jesus gathered those who had fled and disowned him, building up his body once again. But that wasn’t enough: the Church could never stand on its own feet and become that mighty host that would proclaim his Resurrection and Ascension if it did not receive the Spirit. During this novena Jesus is preparing to pour out on us the Spirit he first received from his Father, so that we all might live with the life of God.
Excerpts from Father Vincent's Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.