Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
1 Pt 3:15-18
Jn 14:15-21

Presence and Love

Today’s gospel is a continuation of last week’s gospel: Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper. All the readings provide hope for us who choose to be followers of the Christ. 

The first reading tells how Peter and John went from Jerusalem to Samaria to pray with the people there and call down the Holy Spirit on them. The second reading tells us that Christ suffered for all of us, the good and evil alike. In the gospel, we see Jesus offering encouragement to his disciples, who will soon see him crucified. He reassures them that even though he will leave them, he will not abandon them. Instead, he will send them the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, through whom the disciples will continue to live in union with Jesus. 

Today’s gospel begins with very familiar words: If you love me, you will keep my commandmentsIn other words, love is made real more by what we do rather than by obligation or what we feel. Sadly, some people obey Christ’s commands more out of fear than love. A religion or a human relationship based solely on fear of punishment or hope of reward is not a loving belief or relationship.

On the other hand, a religion based on love seeks opportunities to put that love in practice. What more can I do to help? Is there anything you need? Don’t hesitate to call me at any time. Love seeks only to be of service. It finally comes down to what is your relationship with God like. Is it is based on fear or on love? Fear tends to paralyze. Love sets us free.

In today’s reading, Jesus tells of his impending departure, but at the same time that the disciples will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus will leave to return to the Father, but the Holy Spirit will remain with the disciples. They will remain in union with him.

We received the Holy Spirit at baptism. The Holy Spirit is always with us guiding us, supporting us and leading us into a deeper and loving union with our Trinitarian God. There needs to be results of that presence and love. The most important proof of the Spirit’s presence is our love for one another. If we refuse to forgive, if we bear hatred in our hearts, if we merely tolerate one another, if we only love those who appear to deserve our love, we aren’t loving with the love of Jesus. We always need to ask the help of the Holy Spirit to love as Jesus loved. Without the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing. With the Holy Spirit we can set the world on fire.

How aware are you of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life?

In what ways does your life reflect love in action?

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