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That Time the Apostles Were Quarantined

The Apostles were once under a mandated quarantine. It’s true. You can read all about it in the first two chapters of the Book of Acts.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to the Apostles over a period of 40 days. Then, He ordered them to stay in Jerusalem and await the promise of the Father. And so they did. For nine days the Apostles stayed together in the Upper Room. Then, on the tenth day (the Feast of Pentecost), the Spirit fell upon them and filled them with courage and zeal for the Lord.

We celebrate Pentecost at the end of May, and so I can’t help but think about those nine days the Apostles spent together. Scripture tells us they devoted themselves to prayer “with one accord” (Acts 1:14). That must be true. But, I wonder if they also bickered and complained. I certainly wouldn’t put it past them. After all, the Apostles were far from “perfect Christians,” and the Upper Room was the place of both their greatest acts of faith and some significant failures.

A Complicated Place

The Upper Room is where Jesus washed their feet. It’s where they received the Eucharist. It’s where they became priests. It’s where Jesus gave them the power to forgive sins. It’s where Matthias rose to the rank of Apostle. But, the Upper Room is also where:

  • Peter resisted the foot washing;
  • the Apostles argued over who would be the greatest;
  • Thomas would not believe that Jesus had appeared;
  • the Apostles rejected the women’s report of the Resurrection; and
  • Judas identified himself as Jesus’ betrayer.

There’s a lot of baggage associated with that room, and it’s easy to imagine that the Apostles brought all of it into their nine-day quarantine.

Of course, it could just as easily be that their time cooped up in the Upper Room was every bit as holy as Scripture seems to indicate. After all, it was preceded by 40 days with their resurrected Lord! Jesus broke open the Scriptures for them. He instructed and encouraged them. He ascended into heaven right in front of them. And when it was time for them to spend nine days together, His Blessed Mother was with them. Perhaps those nine days were a time of unparalleled growth, holiness, and praise, as they awaited the promised Advocate and Helper.

Our Upper Rooms

What has your “Upper Room” experience been like so far?

I’m frustrated with mine. There have been some examples of breakthrough: I got to see my daughter sing; I felt the presence of God in prayer with people via Zoom; my youngest son was finally potty trained; my wife and I finished some projects around the house; I reconnected with friends I haven’t seen in a really long time.

But there are also reasons for consternation. The house is usually a wreck. The kids are too loud while I’m trying to work. I’m over-eating because the pantry is, like, right there. I have friends who are sick with the coronavirus, and vulnerable family members that I constantly worry about. Going to the grocery store feels like a video game, trying to strategically make it from the bread aisle to the dairy department without coming within six feet of anyone. It’s nuts.

One Thing Remains

Sometimes I’m just like the Apostles. Other times I’m nothing like them at all. Thankfully, there is always one constant: the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit that fell on the Apostles is the same Spirit that can fall on me. He can fall on you, too – not on some future day when you finally get your act together, but here, now, at this very moment. He can heal you. He can stir up within you a desire to pray. He can give you courage and strength when you have nothing left. He can light your soul on fire so that, when the time comes, you can emerge from your Upper Room just like the Apostles did: invigorated, emboldened, and completely empowered by God.

Seize this moment! Invite the Spirit into your life. Pray to Him. The Spirit moves as He wills, and He wills to move you.

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