I was in Jerusalem a few years ago and I had the privilege to go to the Upper Room where the Last Supper had been. You were would think there would be an altar and all the visible signs of Christianity. However, it was an empty room with nothing in it. As I imagined the scene in the Upper Room from Acts, this empty room captured the moment for me.
They felt alone, didn’t know what to do next, they knew they were waiting but didn’t know for who or what . So what did they do? Together with Mary and a few others, they sat in prayer waiting to have the emptiness in their heart filled. They took that time to stop and enter into a time of prayer and reflection about who they were as the followers of Jesus. What amazes me is that they just didn’t just come with up their own objectives and plan and just do it. But, would it be the Body of Christ if they had done it?
There is a lot to learn from the empty Upper Room. The very first is that we as a community of faith need to remember whose Church this is; it is not ours. We have to remember that Jesus left us the Apostles and their successors to lead and guide us. As a priest, I promised respect and obedience to the Bishop and to the teachings that have been passed down since Jesus himself walked among us. The Church can never be built in my image or any human image; it is the Body of Christ who is wounded in a very real way at this moment in history.
The second thing we learn is that before we do any pastoral program or movement, we must time spend in prayer. We do not need to be in the same physical space to do this. Like those in the Upper Room, we need to be committed every day to stop at a certain time and spend some time in God’s presence waiting for guidance; not telling God how to do it. Mary needs to be in that mix. What mother would lead her children to harm or disunity? What mother would not give tenderly care for her children and only want the best for them? Mary is the model of how to be Church; with gentleness, care, service and putting God’s will before our own.
The final thing that the empty Upper Room teaches us is that we need to have an empty heart when we approach God in prayer. To empty ourselves of the need to be right, to have it our own way, of our pride and sinfulness, our anxieties and fears and what ever else we have cluttered the room of our hearts with, is the essential step to being led by the Spirit.
As we prepare for the Pentecost, let us join with one another like they did in the Upper Room. May our hearts be one this week and may the Spirit reignite our fire. At noon everyday this week, let us commit ourselves to stop and pray in silence awaiting the Spirit. As I have been saying, I pray that the Spirit move us into the Apostolic Church that was in that Upper Room and He will recreate us into the Body of Christ, which is alive and ministering to all in His Name.
and enkindle in them the fire of Thy Divine love.
Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.