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Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2020

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2020

Deacon Anthony J. Cincotta

Assistant Director for Retreat Ministry

 

Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17

Psalm 66

First Letter of Saint Peter

John 14:15-21

 

Two weeks from today we will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday.  It is the feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and is celebrated fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ.

Jesus gives us this explanation in today’s Gospel, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”  Our Lord is about to leave them to return to His Father.  He is giving them “another Advocate,” another defender of the faith.  Who might that be I wonder?  It is of course the Holy Spirit and He is the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity.  The mission and presence of Jesus on this earth is over.  But He is not abandoning us, His followers.  The Holy Spirit will be represented as another defender, another teacher, a leader, a guide and companion on our journey in life who will be with us, well, forever.

I would suspect that many of during our life might not have had a clear picture of the Holy Spirit’s place in our lives.  But, the older I get the more I can feel the power of the Spirit.  I have never considered myself a very patient person but if I am in a situation where I need patience, and finally obtain it, I  begin to think, “Hmm, so that’s how patience feels – that’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit.”  Now all I have to do is work on the other eleven “Fruits” and the “Seven Gifts” of the Holy Spirt.  

In today’s Gospel narrative from Saint John, Jesus promises us, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”  The Holy Spirit is the way Jesus carries out that promise.  His life on earth was more than what He accomplished in His three years of public ministry.  Our Lord tells us the Advocate, or in Greek “Paraclete,” will be with us and that Spirit will call us together and will speak for us.

The Holy Spirit is an encourager in our lives, advocating, calling us together and supporting us.  When we simply don’t have the words to pray, the reading in Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Chapter 8) consoles us, saying that when we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit will pray for us in “sighs and groans too deep for words.”  Now that’s powerful! 

All of this support, love and encouragement is wonderful and it makes us feel good to be a follower of Jesus.  But what about that line in the Gospel that said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  Many of us don’t always want to obey or even listen to what Jesus has to say to us; we want to be independent and do it our own way.   As a result, we listen to the “world” around us and ignore the teachings of Jesus.  Then, after we have thought about how wrong we were we become unhappy and remorseful.  We feel like orphans because we have orphaned ourselves, separating ourselves from a loving God who waits for us to turn back to His open arms.  Pope Francis said, “The Spirit blows where it will, but one of the most common temptations of those who have faith is to bar its path and drive it in one direction or another.”  Many of those temptations, unfortunately, simply lead us to sin.

My sisters and brothers, Jesus is not asking us to earn His love – we are already loved deeply and endlessly, whether we feel we have “earned it or not.”  But God’s plan for each one of us as simple human beings is to realize how loved we actually are and to be so filled with gratitude that we want to follow Our Lord and His way of living life.  It’s counter-cultural and not always understood by those around us, but Jesus asks us to follow Him and die to ourselves.

That term “dying to ourselves” sounds dramatic and extreme but it can be carried out quietly every day of our lives.  We die to ourselves when:

  • When we ask for the WISDOM to make right choices in order to live a holy life.
  • When we UNDERSTAND and have the ability to grasp the meaning of the teachings of the Church.
  • When we use PRUDENCE and right judgment which will help us make choices to live as a faithful follower of Jesus.
  • When we have the FORTITUDE that helps us stand up for our faith in Christ Jesus.
  • When we use our KNOWLEDGE which enables us to choose the right path that will lead us to God.
  • When we have REVERENCE that inspires us to joyfully want to serve God and others.
  • When we have FEAR OF THE LORD which allows us to use wonder and awe and so love God that we will not offend Him by our words and actions.

When you hear the “Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit” the way I just described them you realize that they ARE actual gifts from God.

Friends, the more we make our hearts like Jesus’ heart the easier it is to find Jesus in our lives as the Holy Spirit is simply Jesus’ presence in our lives here and now.  As Pope Francis continues, “The Holy Spirit, as Jesus said, will teach us everything and is the living presence of God in the Church.”

It is when we call out to the Holy Spirit with our “groans and cries” that we will realize all of us have that strength, wisdom and love in our hearts all along.   We can sum it all up with today’s Responsorial Psalm, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”  Alleluia!

Question of the Day:  How will you allow the Holy Spirit lead you to Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.?” 

Prayer:  Saint Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit: “Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.  Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.  Strengthen me, O Holy spirit, to defend all that is holy.  Guard me, then, O Holy spirit, that I always may be holy.  Amen.  

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Coronavirus and for all who are affected by this unprecedented pandemic.

Prosit

 

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