MAY 17, 2020

Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21 

The theme of today’s readings is the proclamation of the Divine Presence of the Holy Spirit. Today’s First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles was an historical recount of the event surrounding the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans. Because of the persecution, although the gospel was spreading, believers were scattered. So the Deacon Philip was on a mission to Samaritans which is the first crossing of the threshold into non-Jewish world. 

In the second reading Peter stresses the essential dimension of Christian Commitment and highlighting the cost of living virtuously. It is addressed to Christian converts who were suffering for their beliefs as a minority group in the pagan society. The advice on how to relate to a disbelieving culture still has its relevance. We have a responsibility to bring God in Christ to our world today, a world which is more often hostile to Christ and his values. Peter calls on them to use mildly the words of defense and at the same time to protest as a witness. They are to be prepared to defend their commitment to Christ, and your faith in him before anyone who demands. He asks on them to speak positively on behalf of someone in need, for God chooses to allow his word to be spoken by those whose hearts are open to receive the out pouring in love of his Spirit. He tells them to protest, meaning to testify or give witness for another. Our giving witness by the way we live and by the values we hold, we can speak favorably for Jesus’ quality of life. This has to be done with gentleness and respect, radiating joy in our lives. 

Jesus calls the disciples to observe his commandment. Here he stresses on the word Love, a word commonly used and yet is a difficult one to put it into practice. Jesus says in the discourse that if we love him we will keep his commands and fulfill his wishes. To John there is only one test of love that is obedience. It was by his obedience that Jesus showed his love of God and it is by our obedience we must show our love to Jesus. 

For this sixth Sunday of Easter, I would like to continue with the first letter of St. Peter, which is our second reading for this weekend. Peter says, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” In many ways, this is the master text for theologians and apologists up and down the centuries to the present day.  Something that is distinctive to biblical Christianity is that, from the beginning it has been very interested in doctrine and expressing doctrine clearly and articulately.  

To Jesus there is only one test of love and that is obedience.  He said,  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”Obedience came from the Latin Obedire  – ob = towards; obedire = “to hear.” Thus obedience means to hear or to listen towards.  Love could be shown through obedience because it involves listening.  This is the core of loving, may be this is the reason why when we remove the letters.  H and T in the word heart what remains is EAR.

Obedience is making oneself available to the service of the other.  This is true in every aspect of life.  Unfortunately, when we hear the word ‘obedience’ what comes to our minds is subservience.  It is like doing what is necessary, but not fun.  From the earliest age, we are already asked to obey.  Obey the traffic rules.  Obey your boss.  Thus, by the time we become adult we have been programmed to think that obedience is unpleasant.  No wonder, many of us become insubordinate.”

Jesus said to his disciples, “if you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  Children tend to use this quote in a different sort of manner – as a tool, to get us, adults, to do what they want!  

Jesus wasn’t  trying to twist our arms to get certain things done by filling us with quilt.  He wasn’t trying to manipulate us at all.  Instead, he says this with a sense of expectation, basically he says, “if you love me… then this is the way that love is shown and proved so that everyone will know that you love me.  This is how you will spend yourself and your time.”             

Christ promises that he would continue his care of his disciples. He tells them that he will not leave them orphans, or fatherless, for though he will be leaving them, he won’t leave them in isolation. He communicates to them that he will come speedily to them after his resurrection. He promises them that he will come daily to them through his Spirit and thus manifest his love, and place into them the abundance of his grace. Certainly he will remain with them till the end of time. Only those persons that see Christ with an eye of faith shall see him forever: the world sees him no more till his second coming; but his disciples have communion with him during his absence. He tells them that these mysteries will be fully revealed in heaven. It is certainly a further act of grace and he asks them to be aware of it and receive comfort from it. The surest evidence of our love to Christ is obedience to the laws of Christ. There are spiritual tokens of Christ and his love given to all believers. Where sincere love to Christ is in the heart, there will be obedience. Love will be a commanding, constraining principle; and where love is, duty follows from a principle of gratitude. God will not only love obedient believers, but he will take pleasure in loving them and remaining with them. He will surely be part and parcel of their life along with the Son and the Spirit. These privileges are confined to those whose love Jesus and keep his commandments and receive the Holy Spirit’s new-creating grace.

The Words of Jesus in the conclusion of today’s Gospel Reading are: “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Through this declaration, we learn the condition that is required in order to share in the life of God. To partake in the life of God, we must also share in the love and obedience of Jesus that was manifested towards His Father during His earthly life. We must share in the love that Jesus manifested towards other human beings. Such is obeying His commandments. The good disciple is much more than someone who, out of a dogged sense of duty, just avoids personal sin and tries to stay in the “state of grace”. When we truly become loving persons to both friend and enemy, to family and strangers, we know that the Spirit of Jesus is living within and transforming us. Then, in the words of Jesus, we can see and, because we can see, we are fully alive.

God Bless you.  Have a wonderful day

Fr. Michael