Sunday, May 21, 2017

Homily for Today

My dear friends in Jesus, as you have all heard and most likely concluded, at the heart of today's readings was the proclamation of the Divine Presence of the Holy Spirit. During the Gospel Reading [Jn. 14:15-21] that concerned the discourse on the departure of the Lord and His return in the Spirit, we heard Jesus say, "I will not leave you orphaned." [Jn. 14:18] When Jesus spoke these words, did His disciples perceive the in-depth meaning and richness that was found in this Divine promise?

God's promise of the Holy Spirit should not have been a mystery to the followers of Jesus who knew the Holy Scriptures. The origin of this promise can be traced to the Old Testament Books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. In the days of the prophets, God had promised to make a new covenant [Jer. 31:31] with His people. He promised to put His law within His people, writing it on their hearts, that He may be their God and they may be His people. [Jer. 31:33] He promised to put a new human spirit within His people, to remove their hearts of stone and to give them a heart of flesh. [Ezek. 11:19, 18:31, 36:26] And finally, God had promised to put His Spirit within His people to make them follow His statutes and be careful to observe His ordinances. [Ezek. 36:27] Biblically, we are taught that this promise has been fulfilled. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, we read "Do you not know that you are God's Temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" [1 Cor. 3:16]

When Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments," [Jn. 14:15] He was reaffirming His Sacred Words that He had spoken to the Jews who believed in Him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." [Jn. 8:31-2]

Jesus proceeded to say, "And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever." [Jn. 14:16] Why did Jesus say, "another" Advocate? Who was the first Advocate? In the First Letter of John, we read, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." [1 Jn. 2:1] Jesus was the first Advocate, the Holy Spirit being the second one. In this application, the word "Advocate" as understood by the Jewish people meant a "helper," a "mediator."

Elsewhere in the Gospel of John, Jesus stated, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf." [Jn. 15:26] Was Jesus contracting Himself? In John 14:16, He stated that the Father would send the Holy Spirit. In John 15:26, He stated that He would send the Holy Spirit. No, there is no contradiction here. Why? Because Christian tradition teaches us that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son and as from the Father and the Son. Therefore, it is correct to say that the Father or the Son shall send the Holy Spirit.

For what purpose was the Holy Spirit sent into the world? In John 14:26, we learn that the Holy Spirit was sent to teach us everything, and to remind us of all what Jesus has said to the Apostles. In John 15:26, we are told that the Holy Spirit was sent to testify on behalf of Jesus. And in John 16:7-14, we learn that the purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit was to prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness and judgment: about sin, because some did not believe in Jesus; about righteousness because Jesus was going to the Father and the Apostles would no longer see Him; about judgment, because the ruler of the world had been condemned.

Jesus had many other things to tell His disciples. But they could not bear it while He was in the world. The Spirit of truth was sent so He could guide the disciples of Jesus into all the truth; for He spoke whatever He heard, and He declared to the things that were to come. He glorified Jesus, because He took what belonged to Jesus and declared it to us.

When we speak of the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Truth," we acknowledge part of His role as Advocate. As the Spirit of Truth, He guides the Church in all truth. When it is said that the Holy Spirit "abides 'with you', and He will be 'in you,'" it means that He will be with both, "with the Church" and "in every Christian." As He makes His dwelling within the Catholic Church that was instituted by Jesus, He makes His indwelling in each and everyone of us who are Temples of the Holy Spirit. [1 Cor. 3:16] For the members of the Church are the living stones that let themselves be built into a spiritual house, [1 Pet. 2:4] Jesus being the cornerstone, chosen and precious, that whoever believes in Him may not be put to shame. [1 Pet. 2:6]

Jesus promised that He would not leave us as orphans. [Jn. 14:18] He would be coming to us. Some may ask, "How can that be so?" Believing that the Holy Spirit has made His indwelling in us, where is Jesus? We cannot see Him? The arrival of the Holy Spirit in the world included the arrival of Jesus and the Father because of their shared life in the Holy Trinity. For the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father. [Jn. 14:20]

In the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, we are told that the fullness of God was pleased to dwell bodily in Jesus. [Col. 1:19, 2:9] In Jesus dwelled the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Such being the case, can it not also be said that the fullness of God dwells in the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Jesus [Rom. 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:11; Phil. 1:19; Gal. 4:6] (CCC. # 693) and the Spirit of the Father? [Mt. 10:20] Can it not be said that the Spirit of the Lord, [Is. 61:1; Lk. 4:18; Acts 8:39; 2 Cor. 3:17, 8] is the One and same Spirit of the Father and the Son?

Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, "In a little while, the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me." [Jn. 14:19] What does it mean that the world will no longer see Jesus? It means that those who walk in the darkness, including those who lack faith, having rejected the Divinity of Christ, will not have the life of Jesus in them. The believers will see Jesus because Jesus is the principle by which Christians live the life of God through the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity. [Ref. Jn. 6:57; Rom. 6:4, 8; 1 Cor. 15:45]

The Words of Jesus in the conclusion of the Gospel Reading were, "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." [Jn. 14:21] Through this declaration, we learn the condition that is required in order to share in the life of God. To share 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.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, no one accumulates Heavenly treasures by acknowledging the spiritual laws of love and obedience of Christ. Heavenly treasures are accumulated by applying the life of Christ in our lives. Actions produce credits; words fade away!

Today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles [Acts 8:5-8, 14-17] was an historical recount of the event surrounding the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans. Accepting Jesus as the promised Messiah, many of the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit in their lives through the laying of the hands of Peter and John.

This very special event can be viewed as the Samaritan Pentecost. The first Pentecost is documented in Acts 2:1-4 when the Jews received the Holy Spirit. A third Pentecost took place when the Gentiles heard the good news and received the Holy Spirit. [Acts 10:44] Similar to this, every year a Pentecost takes places on a smaller scale in most dioceses of the world when the baptized faithful and the new converts receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of their confirmation in the Catholic Church. Filled with the Holy Spirit, these members of the Church no longer need to feel alone. Being proned to the prodding of the Spirit of Christ, they now have an Advocate to guide them, to counsel them, and to grant them wisdom and strength during their difficult times.

Jesus promised that He would not leave us orphaned. As a sign of His infinite love for each and everyone of us, He has opened the door to our adoption as children. And because we are children, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So we are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. [Gal. 4:6] May the grace of God always be with you all.

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