This is an unusual “in between” Sunday – in between the Lord’s return to the Father’s right hand at Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Church’s tradition is to spend this time ‘in between’ in prayer, as did Mary and the Apostles, waiting for the promised gift of the Spirit. The Gospel for this Sunday is part of the ‘priestly prayer’ of Christ from the Last Supper – a prayer full of concern for his friends – for us, the Church. Eastertide has been all about the Church, and this Sunday is no exception: the vision of Stephen in the first reading, who sees heaven thrown open and is thus able to pray “Do not hold this sin against them” is a vision of what the Church must be – a community of love and mercy, always inspired (that is, guided by the Spirit) by the presence of Jesus. The Church is itself the community ‘in between’ the Lord’s first and second coming: as we await the Spirit next Sunday, Saint John gives us the final vision of our destiny: “let everyone who listens answer ‘Come!”‘

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