May 21, 2017
6th Sunday of Easter
Sunday 10 am & 4:30 pm
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
Our Gospel this Sunday is a continuation from last week’s Gospel from John Chapter 14 where Jesus is at the Last Supper with his closest disciples speaking to them very intimately about a serious message. In the same way, He speaks to us (His disciples) very intimately, at this Eucharist and at every Mass, with a very serious message. Today He tells us as He did 2000 years ago, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” Jesus was the first Advocate but He promised to send another…First of all what is an advocate? An advocate literally means “one who stands beside”. It also means “an aid, an advisor, a counselor, an intercessor, a defense attorney, a teacher and a guide.” Now who wouldn’t want an advocate in their lives when it means all that?...We know that the Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the 3rd person of the Trinity. But the question is why would Jesus send Him to us? Because He knows that being His follower, that being His disciple in this world is not easy…being a Catholic Christian, living our faith is very difficult. Why? Because we have 3 enemies who make it difficult: (1) the devil (who does exist and is very real), (2) the world, and (3) is our flesh. With these 3 enemies against us it is impossible to live the life of faith without the Advocate.
So how do we get this Advocate (the Spirit of Jesus) the Helper and the Guide? As Catholics we believe that the Spirit comes to us through the Sacraments. At Baptism the Spirit of God is infused into our soul, dispelling the darkness and giving us the Light of Christ, making us a temple of the Holy Spirit and a child of God…At Confirmation the Bishop (or the pastor on Easter Vigil) lays his hands on the candidates and prays that the Spirit comes down on them as we heard in the first reading when the Apostles Peter & John laid hands on those in Samaria who had been baptized. In Confirmation we are anointed and empowered with the Spirit to be witnesses for Christ and for the Gospel. We are empowered to keep the commandments of Jesus…Jesus said in the Gospel, “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.” What are His commandments? Very simple, love God and love neighbor. That’s it! The whole Gospel message summed up in those 2 things. Very simple but very difficult to do without the Advocate.
Knowing the commandments is important but putting them into practice with the help of the Spirit and actually living them is essential. In the first reading from Acts Philip (one of the first deacons we heard about in last week’s first reading) because of His love of God and love of neighbor went down to Samaria to spread the Good News of Jesus. Now keep in mind Samaria was hated by the Jews yet with the Advocate empowering him, he put that aside and loved his neighbors who were actually his enemies by ministering to them. Love of God and love of neighbor is self-gift. It is self-donation. It is being more concerned with the well-being of the other than ourself. It is the sharing of our time, our talent and our treasure for the good of the other. Love of God and love of neighbor goes against what the world and what our flesh tells us (me, myself & I). Love of God and love of neighbor, even love of enemy, and the sharing of our blessings which we are all called to through our Baptism is possible only with the Advocate.
Like Philip in the first reading, with the Spirit working through us we can do great things for the Kingdom of God. Philip preached the Gospel, drove out unclean spirits from possessed people and the paralyzed and crippled were cured. You might say, I can’t do those things! Sure you can, with the Spirit of God in you. You can drive out unclean spirits by allowing Jesus to speak through you to someone who is going through a difficult time, who has lost all hope, and who is ready to give up. You can help heal the paralyzed and crippled who are frozen in fear and worry by sharing the peace and the healing you have found in Christ. We can do great things for the Kingdom with the Advocate by our side. The tremendous tragedy is many Christians do not know that within them they have the greatest power there is. The power of the Holy Spirit, God Himself inside of us!
But it is up to us to allow the Spirit of God to work through us. The Father has given us free will. We must choose to cooperate with the Spirit to do the Father’s will of loving God and loving neighbor. St. Teresa of Calcutta (aka Mother Teresa) said, “When you look at the inner workings of electrical things, you see wires. Until the current passes through them, there will be no light. That wire is you and me. The current is God, the Holy Spirit. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, to produce the Light of the World, Jesus, in us. Or we can refuse to be used and allow darkness to spread.” It is up to each of us to choose to allow the Advocate to work through us or not. It is a choice we must make every single day of our lives in the big moments but also in the everyday, small moments.…It is through the Spirit of God that we can do great things by our self-gift for the Kingdom…The key to this is the first verse from our 2nd reading from St. Peter, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” Make Jesus Lord and King every day of your life and He will give you His Spirit as He promised. Be open to Him in prayer, in His Word and in the sacraments especially the Eucharist and you will have His Spirit with you. Simply ask and you will receive.
In closing, those who allow the Spirit of God to be their Advocate, to be by their side, to be their advisor, their counselor, intercessor, defense attorney, their teacher and their guide are on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. It’s not an easy road at times. Sometimes it is very difficult but with and through the Spirit in us we can and will make it to our heavenly home. How many others will we help make it there with us?
Jesus speaks these words of hope to us today at this supper of the Eucharist very intimately as He did to His disciples at the Last Supper. Let us believe and receive what He has told us, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”