6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3: 15-18; John 14: 15-21
Wherever the Gospel is preached, evil spirits are set to flight and men and women are shown the path to everlasting life. The Word of God is a Word of freedom and life. The power of God at work in us makes us a new creation and brings us to fullness of life in Christ. Our faith tells us that if we have died with Christ, we shall also rise with Him. Do we allow the Christ-life within us to shine forth so that those we encounter come to desire the fullness of life that God desires to give them? This is an important question because the Gospel can have a transforming effect on a soul that has never heard it. We claim to live in a Christian country, yet many people around us do not know Jesus Christ or the Love of God that has been poured out upon us. The country singer Tim McGraw wrote a song: Live Like You Were Dying. Our faith in the death and resurrection of Christ and Hid Body the Church must be more than a recitation of words. We must live like we have, indeed, died with Christ so others may come to know the reason for our hope. We must live as if we have, indeed, been raised with Christ so that our brothers and sisters may accept the Light of Faith.
We must live like we believe the tomb is empty. The Gospel we proclaim is not so much the words we speak, as the lives we live. This is based on the fact we are Disciples of Christ, Who is the love of God made tangible for us. God loves us so much that He sent His beloved Son who did not know sin to suffer for sinners so that we who are sinners might come to know unconditional love. The loving design of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection was to draw us into the embrace of divine love where we might find the fullness of life. The love of God for the world cost Christ His life, a life which He poured out for others. As followers of Christ we must be willing to pay the price as well. Through Baptism we have been conformed to Christ so as to become the instruments of His loving plan in our time. It is important to keep in mind that Jesus’ mission in the world did not end with His death, resurrection and ascension. It is being continued in us, right here and right now.
In today’s gospel reading we heard Jesus preparing His closest companions for His departure. He is preparing them for the catastrophe of His violent death and the subsequent collapse of all their plans and hopes for the future. More than that, He also promises not to abandon them or to leave them disinherited orphans. Rather, He promises to send the Holy Spirit as a token of His abiding presence in and His infinite love for the Church. Their lives are about to be radically changed. The words spoken in the Upper Room are addressed to us, my brothers and sister. While we may not see Him, He promises to be in communion with us. He promises to abide in our hearts and to enlarge them with the sweetness of love so that we can keep His commandments. Love will be a commanding, constraining principle; and where love is there will be service of others, especially the poor and marginalized. In this outpouring of love, the world will come to experience the presence of God because “God is love and where love is there is God.” Where God is, there is an abundance of joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and gentleness.
Jesus knows our weaknesses. He knows our doubts. He knows our fears and anxieties. He knows that we are powerless without Him and that can do nothing without His grace. For this reason, He promised to send another Advocate and Guide. The Holy Spirit is intended to dwell within us and protect us as we face the world. The Spirit, the Consoler will be with us as we face persecution for what we believe. The Holy Spirit will make us aware of Jesus’ presence even though we do not see, hear or feel Him. We need that which only God can give us: a renewed life; strength to stay faithful to Jesus; wisdom to help us navigate life’s many twists and turns. The Holy Spirit is our assurance that God stands alongside us as we face life’s challenges and will be our companion as we encounter any future bumps in the road.
At the core of Jesus teaching is the simple proclamation: “The Kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the Gospel” (Mk. 1:15). Gospel living unites us to the cross of Christ, through which we are freed from our sins and initiated into everlasting life. Trusting Christ’s promise to send an advocate to be with us all the days of our lives, we can put aside all fear and dread. When Jesus ascended to heaven, he brought to the Heavenly Father our humanity, which he assumed in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This is the anchor of our souls. Let us fix our hope on that humanity, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father (cf. Eph 2:6). Where He has gone, He promises to take us, close to the Father’s heart. May this hope guide our lives and sustain us, even to our dying breath.