20 and 21 May 2017 Sixth Sunday of Easter A Homily
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
First Peter 3:15-18
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
We are approaching the end of the Easter Season.
Next week we will celebrate the Ascension of Jesús.
In two weeks we will celebrate Pentecost.
Pentecost, we sometimes refer to as the “birth” of the church since it marks a special beginning of the outreach of the church.
According the Book of the Acts of the Apostles the church begins in Jerusalem and its mission and reach extends to the whole world.
This “outreach” is described today in the first reading as a missionary journey undertaken by the apostle Philip after a persecution of the church.
We know from the Gospels of Luke and John that the Samaritans were not “friends” of the Judeans. The Samaritans shared some beliefs with the Jews but differed on some very basic issues.
While the Book of Acts reports today about the success of the Philip’s mission to Samaria we also hear about what was lacking in Philip’s missionary efforts.
The First Reading tells us about Peter and John going from
Jerusalem to Samaria to complete the initiation of the people of the
city of Samaria. Philip had only baptized with water.
John and Peter pray for the Holy Spirit and “lay hands on the people and “they (the people) received the Holy Spirit.”
This rather “orderly” description of the completion of the work of “initiating people into the Church may offer us some understanding of how our church changes or adapts our teaching and practice over time.
John’s Gospel today prepares us for the Ascension which we will celebrate next week.
Jesus promises “another Advocate” to be with us always.
Jesus promises we will not be orphans,
that he will “come to us,”
On that day Jesus says
“you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me
and I in you.”
Jesus tells us how we will remain in him and how he will remain in us.
John’s Gospel is repetitious and spends a lot of time explaining the unity of:
Father and Son,
the Son and us,
us and the Father.
“Being in” and “remaining in” are two phrases that get at how this unity is begun, achieved and maintained.
The maintaining is not temporary or transient.
We “remain in” and “are in” eternally.
Jesús today speaks about a third force or person who will “remain with” us.
In fact Jesús assures us:
“ I will not leave you orphans”.
The Father will be asked by the Son (Jesús) and will give us another Advocate to be with us always.
This Advocate will be “the Spirit of truth”.
The Spirit of Truth will help us to “remain” in the Father’s love by our “keeping” the commandments.
Let us today “keep the commandments”,
surrounded by and in the love of Father, Son and the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth.