Monday, May 20, 2013

Flash: apostles in upper room not scared this time around!

This is my yearly post Pentecost rant, generally made to my husband. This year I'll make it here.

Despite what appears in numerous articles, sermons and devotionals, I think the authors are wrong when they suggest that the apostles  in the upper room were hiding in fear during the nine days before Pentecost. There is no scriptural evidence for this.  It seems that these writers are confusing the mental state of the apostles in the days following the Crucifixion with their mental state after the Ascension. 
 
We see in John 20,19 that the apostles were behind closed doors "for fear of the Jews" on the evening of the Resurrection. But after Jesus ascended into heaven, they returned to Jerusalem "with great joy" (Luke 24,52), fully convinced of His divinity ad having received His promise to be with them always. The returned to the upper room, and rather than act like fearful men in hiding, made plans to carry out their mission in a pretty business like manner, choosing a replacement for Judas. Then continued to  persevere in prayer with Mary.Luke also tells us that, far from being sequestered, they were "continually in the temple blessing God"(53)  The reason for that retreat in the upper room was not to hide out, but simply to pray for guidance and await the promised coming of the Holy Spirit. It seems that their reasoning for this first novena was not that they were too scared to begin spreading the kingdom, but not sure exactly how to proceed in doing that. Hence the sensible decision to pray and wait. And, no doubt, to receive comfort and wisdom from the Blessed Mother. 

Obviously, the coming of the Holy Spirit gave them an increase in courage, (the gift of fortitude).  But the scriptures do not indicate anything resembling the fear they had experienced before the Ascension. At least, that is how it appears to me. 

End of rant.


3 comments:

  1. Hurrah! I read the "continually in the temple blessing God" verse and so sighed inwardly as I heard the apostles described as "cowering and terrified" before receiving the Holy Spirit in a Pentecost sermon.

    Always a relief to find someone else thinking "Hmm, that can't be right!" about such things too!

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  2. I think you're right. See John Bergsma's article:
    http://www.thesacredpage.com/2013/05/readings-for-pentecost-sunday.html#more

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  3. I agree as well, and this is coming form a very non-theological, non-scholar type. Why would they be afraid of the Jews when they hadn't really stared their mission yet? The Jews probably figured that by crucifying Jesus that would scare everyone else and be the end of it. How wrong they were.

    I see somewhat of a correlation to this today, when the non-believers out there are trying to keep us in our "upper rooms" through intimidation.

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