Sixth Sunday of Easter (A) – May 25

by Archbishop Joseph Harris

by Archbishop Joseph Harris

Gospel John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Homily

In the very tragic situation which the nation lived two weeks ago when a baby died after being left in a closed car for several hours, we saw the mother of the dead child declaring her love for her father in law. As I read the gospel passage given to us for our meditation this weekend, and the words whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” I could not help but think of the love which bound that family together and its relationship to the love which binds the follows of Jesus to the Father and to Jesus himself.

This Gospel Reading brings together three characteristics of those who are truly followers of Jesus. The first characteristic is love; “If you love me you will keep my commandments”. The only commandment of Jesus is to love God above all things and to love our neighbours as Christ loves them. Unfortunately the word love is used and abused so often that we no longer understand its meaning and we mistake love for emotional involvement. While emotional involvement is good in itself, it is not love. We cannot be emotionally involved with enemies, yet we are asked to love our enemies. Love is a decision to do the best that we can for the other, whether we like them or not. To love as Christ did, adds another dimension to doing the best for the other. It entails thinking of the other and doing the best for the other before we think of ourselves. To love the neighbour as we love ourselves belongs to Old Testament religion and was changed by Christ to “love the neighbour as I have loved them”.

The second characteristic of the follower of Jesus is the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth. The Spirit of truth tells us that we are all sons and daughters of the same Father, brothers and sisters of each other and that every human being is immensely holy and worthy of our love. It is the Spirit who also tells us what is truly good for the other. Without the Spirit of truth we cannot truly love.

The third characteristic of the follower of Jesus is identification with Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us “On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you”.  For the follower of Jesus, this affirmation is one that gives great hope because it tells us that the story of Jesus in the Gospel is not the story of someone outside of ourselves. The gospel story is our story and therefore our lives are sacred. The important thing for all of us is to be able to relate our lives to the life and to the specific incidents in the life of Jesus. When we can accept and offer our sufferings like Jesus for the good of others, especially when the sufferings are not the result of moral fault on our part, then Jesus lives again today. That is the meaning of the phrase after the words of consecration at Mass; “Do this in memory of me”

The Gospel for today then calls us to be aware of the Christian vocation which is to make Jesus Christ present again in our world, in our families, in our workplaces, clubs and businesses. We do this by replicating what Jesus did. He did the best that he could for us, even for those who crucified him, by giving himself in love even unto death. Today then we thank God for the people who show us by their lives that it is possible to be a true follower of Jesus. We think first of all of the Saints, the heroes of our faith. We think of St. Francis, and Dominic and Benedict.  But we also think of those undeclared saints like, Mons. Romero in El Salvador, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Ghandi in India, and Martin Luther King. These persons all gave their lives in love for others, not concentrating on their own comfort or personal interests but on those whom they loved. But let us not forget also parents and Godparents and teachers and doctors, whom we know to truly seek out what is best for those with whom they come into contact. Let us remember them and thank God for them.

But the Gospel also calls us to evaluate our own following of Jesus. Do I listen to the Spirit of truth who lives in me so that I can truly love, doing what the Spirit reveals to be the best for others, so that Jesus Christ may again be present in the world? If the answer is yes, then I can thank God for that. It is because of his grace in my life that I

can say that. If the answer is no or only sometimes then I know that I have to ask for forgiveness but also for the grace to listen to the Spirit of truth so that I may always do the best that I can for others and so make Jesus present in our world. Let us also pray that world leaders, national leaders, community leaders and especially church leaders will listen to that Spirit of Truth. On that day we will know that Christ is in the Father, and in us, and we in Him.

Prayer

All powerful and ever-loving God, you call us to live the logic of love at all times, even when it is costly. This is difficult but in the measure that we do it we become other Christs making you present in the world. This the vocation to which you call us Father, so that those who surround us may experience your love and mercy. Give us the Spirit Lord so that we may be strengthened to live out this special vocation. We ask this through the intercession of Jesus your son and Mary our mother. Amen

 

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