If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 3 May 2013

6th Sunday of Eastertide Year C 2013

6th. Sunday of Easter (C)

(Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29)

Today, dear People of God, let us give careful attention to Our Lord’s words: 

Whoever loves Me will keep My word; 

for they will help us deal with certain difficulties easily arising from experiences in modern society which can, at times, serve to weaken the confidence and lessen the commitment of some Catholics and Christians.

Sometimes, for example, well-intentioned but fragile believers are puzzled by friends and well-known individuals who do not practice any religion and yet consider themselves to be good-living people, and might, indeed, seem to be accepted as such by others who say that it is not necessary to go to Church in order to live a good life.  Such experiences can generate vague feelings of insecurity, sow tiny seeds of anxiety and doubt, in remote corners of the hearts and minds of some believers; and should they, subsequently, encounter others who are positively antagonistic towards religion and scornfully refer to the faithful as "church-goers", deriding them with words such as “hypocrites" and other like terms of disdain or even contempt, then, they can find themselves deprived of a measure of that peace, joy, and confidence which should normally accompany their practice of the faith.

Of course, upset and doubts of that nature arise partly because such believers are perhaps too easily impressed by appearances and popular opinions.   Moreover, it is not infrequently the case that, despite their devotion, these same believers are not sufficiently alive to the implications of their faith, with the result that they have too few personal, solid, convictions and are always catching up, so to speak, with what others are thinking.  In that way they are easily led to accept the world's criteria: taking on, and being influenced by, political correctness and popular trends of thought concerning, for example, what is acceptable speech, and, above all, what are socially approved and correct opinions and behaviour.  

Now, all disciples of Jesus, can and should have sure faith and calm confidence in  His teaching in Mother Church; and that faith and confidence should, in turn, lead them to the clear awareness and firm conviction that only those approved by God, who love Jesus and obey His teaching, will be finally found truly good.  For they become such, not by safely following and hiding behind popular opinion, nor by striking out and winning worldly acclaim for themselves, but by the gift of God’s grace leading them, first of all, to recognize and love the Person of Jesus, and subsequently forming them into His likeness through heart-felt obedience to, and if necessary, suffering for His teaching.

Yet, how can those others, who don't acknowledge God or profess any faith, still seem be so nice, so pleasant, and sometimes so good? 

In order to understand this apparent dilemma we must remember the words of our Lord and Master, Who tells us:

Whoever does not love me does not keep My words; yet the word you hear is not Mine but that of the Father who sent Me. 

To our eyes, these unbelievers do not appear to love evil; and if we have friends among them, we may be inclined to say that they want what seems to be good, or even, sometimes, find ourselves thinking them far better than us. However, those who do not accept Jesus' teaching do not love Him, and cannot love the Father, and consequently may be far different from what appears to our earthly eyes: 

The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for that which is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.  (Luke 16:15)

Ultimately, when confronted with Jesus and His Truth, the Truth He received from the Father Who is God and Lord of all creation, they -- as disbelievers -- prefer themselves and their own thoughts.  They love themselves to such an extent that they are not only content, but even prefer, to follow their own idea of a good life rather than embrace Jesus' teaching.  Indeed, they can have such a low idea of God that they imagine themselves to be in no need whatsoever of a Saviour, considering themselves ready to meet God -- if indeed He does exist -- standing up proudly in His presence, head held high and face to face!  Yes, they are proud: not, indeed, manifestly before us in their observable behaviour, but before God in the hidden depths of their heart’s desires, and in the secret recesses of their minds and the hidden folds of their purposes, where they can be subject to pride in its most insidious and deadly form.  Murderers and rapists, thieves and muggers can, relatively easily, be brought to see the evil of their ways, because such actions are patently much more ugly and inexcusable; but how difficult is it for non-religious people who see themselves as nice and good-living to accept and appreciate that they are in any need of a Saviour before God!

Nevertheless, on the human level the fact still remains, and we can still at times wonder, how irreligious people and indeed, sometimes, openly evil people, can nevertheless, seem to be both charming and attractive.

For the answer to this, we must continue to ponder Our Lord's words, for we have much more to learn from Him that may seem strange to us if our patterns of thought have been over-influenced and formed by commonly held opinions rather than Christian teaching.

Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  

Notice that pronoun "My".  Today, people are very familiar with the supreme Christian prayer, taught by Jesus Himself, which goes: "Our Father, who art in heaven..."   Many call that prayer the "Our Father", but that is not accurate enough, it should be called "The Lord's Prayer" because it was a prayer given by Jesus to His disciples, not to anyone and everyone.   God does indeed love all His creation because He created it; and mankind, the culmination of His creation is especially loved by God: they alone are made in His likeness.  Now, it is just there that we come across the reason why we can, at times, find some non-religious people so puzzlingly attractive: it is because we are still able to see in them aspects of the rich endowment and subtle beauty of God’s crowning creation; and, indeed, the closer we ourselves are drawn to God, the more such people can move us, at times, to gratefully and lovingly appreciate what is; but also, alas, to sorrowfully regret what might well, indeed should, have been.

Of those disciples who learn to love and obey His teaching, we are told that Jesus said, 

My Father will love them.

Now, the Father loves such disciples because of their love for His only begotten, well-beloved Son, He loves them for Jesus’ sake, as His children in Jesus.  And  because of Jesus, the Father endows such disciples with a new and supernatural creation-beauty: a beauty given them as members of the Body of the Risen Christ sharing, even here on earth, in something of His Resurrection beauty and glory.  Now, there is a world of difference between God's love for creation, between God’s love for mankind as the crown and culmination of natural creation, and the Father's love for His supernatural children, born of the Spirit, in Jesus, His only begotten and uniquely beloved Son.

People of God: we can only hope to experience God in this new way, as our heavenly Father, if we prove our love for Jesus by obeying Him.  Such an experience is not something we can grasp or achieve for ourselves, nor is it automatically given, so to speak, to all signed-up members of Jesus’ group; it is a personal gift from God the Father of Jesus, and it is given -- as He wills -- to those whose love and obedience binds them, by the Spirit, to an ever deeper longing and searching for Jesus.  Listen again to Our Lord's words:

Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.  

The one who lovingly obeys Jesus, Jesus' Father will love; and not only will Jesus' Father love him, but both He and Jesus will:

Come to him and make Our dwelling with him. 

My dear people, our God is not cheap.  His love is the supreme treasure of our lives, our greatest blessing and God’s most gracious Gift; for when the Father and Son come to us, they bring also with them the Holy Spirit to be our very own Advocate, Counsellor, and Guide:

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and will remind you of all that I told you. 

When He, the Spirit of Jesus, is present as divine Gift in our lives, guiding, comforting, strengthening, delighting, and inspiring us for Jesus' sake, then, indeed, we can begin to truly experience the presence of God as the heavenly Father's love, as Jesus' companionship, and as the Spirit's own comfort and strength, peace and joy.

Finally, Jesus goes on to say with clear authority, what I have been trying to explain earlier, namely, that His ways are not like the ways of this world:

Not as the world gives do I give peace to you. 

St. Paul, too, made this abundantly clear to his converts in Corinth:

The wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. (1 Cor. 3:19)

As you heard in the first reading, the Christians at Antioch were troubled when they allowed the teaching of unauthorized preachers to influence them in their practice of the faith:

We (the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem) have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings, and disturbed your peace of mind. 

That was, and still is, quite wrong, because it is the last thing Jesus wants for His disciples:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.   Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

In order to experience the Easter fulfilment which Jesus has won for us, we have to allow the love of the Father, the teaching of Jesus, and the guidance and comfort of the Holy Spirit, to enlighten and to rule our whole life, as we heard in the second reading today:

The (holy) city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb. 

People of God, you are called, destined, to be citizens of God’s heavenly kingdom, do not therefore, like Lot’s wife, look over-much at the world around you, the world you are leaving behind, but, as one hymn puts it, "Walk, walk, in the light of the Lord" and, indeed, do your very best to walk ever forward with a firm step, a steadfast heart, and in the spirit of pure Easter joy.