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Friday, 15 May 2020

6th Sunday of Easter Year A 2020

6th. Sunday of Easter (A)
(Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1st. Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21)

In our Gospel reading we heard Jesus make this promise to His disciples:

I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever -- the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him for He dwells with you and will be in you.

"You know Him for He dwells with you":  as Divine Providence, the Holy Spirit had thus far guided the apostles individually to the Person of Jesus and formed them as a body of disciples living with and serving Him as Lord, and publicly witnessing to Him as Messiah.

However, that same Spirit of Truth, Jesus went on to say:

            Will be in you.

For Jesus promised that, having ascended to heaven, He would ask the Father to send another ‘Helper’ for the disciples Who -- as God’s Gift -- will be with them collectively as Church,  and also in them individually, forming them as loving disciples of, self-sacrificing witnesses to, Jesus for the glory of the Father; and thus the Spirit of Life and Love will ‘Help’ Mother Church  bear ‘fruit that will last’: adopted children of God in the likeness of Jesus, the Beloved and only-begotten Son of the Father:

Because I live, you will live also.

People of God, let us learn from the Apostles just how important is the Gift of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus promises, the Spirit, the Helper, we are now expecting with devout anticipation:

When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.    For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.  

As living members of Mother Church and the Body of Christ we are in the constant process of being guided and formed by the Holy Spirit living with us all and in each one of us.  And yet, every day, we are being shown that our society and indeed our world, for which we are meant to be both sanctifying salt and guiding light, are becoming alienated, are alienating themselves, ever more deeply from God; and indeed, to such an extent that we are inevitably led to question the witness that we ourselves are giving to Jesus, and to look and pray ever more deeply and humbly for a renewed ‘gifting’ of the Spirit of Truth this Pentecost, in order that He, the Helper as Jesus called Him, might indeed help us prosecute more effectively the work for which we have been chosen: the work of witnessing to the beauty and proclaiming the truth of Jesus to all mankind.  Not only to continue the work He Himself initiated during His life among men, but indeed, do even greater works by spreading the Gospel with its offer of salvation to the whole of mankind as He Himself said:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to My Father.

In the beginning, after man had sinned, we read that:

The Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide (strive, contend) with man forever, for he is indeed flesh.” (Genesis 6:3)

Weak, recalcitrant, flesh, indeed, because mankind became the plaything of the spirit of deceit (1 Kings 22:19-23):

Then Micah (the prophet) said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left.   And the LORD said, 'Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?' So, one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner.   Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, 'I will persuade him.'   The LORD said to him, 'In what way?' So, he said, 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And the LORD said, 'You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.'    Therefore look (Ahab, rebellious king of Judah!) the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you."

Because of the sinfulness of Israel, because of their rejection of God and their service of demons -- epitomized in their king Ahab -- God allowed them to suffer under the very spirits they had chosen to follow.   And surely, People of God, we can see that same thing happening all around us today, where deceitful spirits are manifestly at work leading multitudes astray: harassing, driving, directing them along ways that can never lead to peace or happiness.

As disciples of Him of Whom the prophet foretold (Isaiah 42:2):

He will not cry out nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street,

we cannot always be condemning the world; nor, as disciples of the same Jesus of whom the prophet went on to say:

            A bruised reed He will not break and smoking flax He will not quench,

can we always be arguing: be it with youngsters who are misguided and largely ignorant, or with older sinners become blasé and nonchalant, having long ago turned their backs on God.

Today we are in a situation very much like that in which the first Christians found themselves in the pagan society of the Roman Empire and to whom Peter wrote in his first letter, saying:

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.  Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope which is in you, but do it with courtesy and respect.

That is, guard against the poisonous atmosphere of much of today's popular thinking, preaching, boasting and practice, lest it corrode the strength and beauty of your relationship with Jesus. We should not, however, in mistaken zeal, attempt to push our faith onto others; neither, as I have already said, can we be constantly condemning or complaining; rather, as Peter advises, let us be supremely positive:


Pentecost is God’s offer to come anew among us as Church and into us personally as disciples; we should therefore learn from such a Gift, such a Helper, to entrust, commit, ourselves more confidently to His abiding presence with Mother Church, more gratefully to His isHworking-presence in ourselves, and with more appreciation for His gracious presence in-and-among our fellow Catholics and Christians;

Too often we can so easily adopt worldly ways -- gaining men’s praise or a measure of self-satisfaction -- and thereby close ourselves somewhat to the Spirit of Truth, with the result that He cannot work effectively either in us or through us:

The Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide (strive, contend) with man forever, for he is indeed flesh.”

We can so easily live as children of the world: yielding to vanity, refusing to accept unpleasant truths, speaking wild words from emotional upset, uttering calculated lies to avoid what we fear, using words as weapons for aggression rather than as channels of truth for mutual understanding; and in doing such things we allow our enemy, the spirit of deceit -- of whom the prophet Malachi spoke -- to attempt to shackle the work of the Spirit within us.

But, dear People of God, we must never forget that a recognized enemy is no deadly threat for those who sincerely seek God, for by embracing the promise of Jesus’ Spirit coming to us anew at Pentecost we can indeed turn the tables on the deceiver, we can mock him, indeed, put him to scorn, for Jesus' promise to His disciples still holds for you and me, dear fellow Catholics and Christians, in our world today.

We are called and enabled by the Spirit of Jesus to continue Jesus’ work; indeed, as Jesus Himself said, we are called to do even greater works for Him.  Let us therefore prepare, pray, for the coming anew of His Spirit among and within us by opening ourselves up in greater love to the beauty and truth so richly available to us: in the doctrinal and spiritual teaching of Mother Church, in our own ever-deeper prayerful communion with Jesus, and in all sorts of cooperative relationships with our brothers and sisters working in and for society and the world of today.  In that way may we be made truly ready and prepared to:

Give a defence to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in (us);

that stupendous hope which is summed up in those very few words of Jesus:

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.