22nd May, 2022

Image of Jesus standing in the clouds

 

‘The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you’

 6th Sunday of Easter C

In today’s first reading, we heard about the First Apostolic Council, which took place around the year fifty, in Jerusalem. The main reason for his convocation was the disagreement or rather conflict between the disciples of Jesus about an extremely important and controversial question: Whether pagans who converted and become Christians should still keep the old tradition of Moses, or in other words, the Old Testament law?

As we heard people were divided and the Christians community from Antioch didn’t feel competent enough to resolve this problem on their own, so they decided to engage the Apostles and rely on their wisdom and experience. But as we heard, the Apostles didn’t want to resolve this issue alone, but decided to engage the entire community concerning the future of the church. It is very interesting that even such a large community for some reason didn’t want to make any decisions alone, but after thoughts and prayers they appealed to the Holy Spirit and opened themselves up to his inspirations, and only then, under his divine inspiration, they settled the dispute. Hence the famous words: ‘It has been decided by the Holy Spirit and by ourselves not to saddle you with any other burden beyond these essentials….’ I like this passage very much because it shows us what our priorities should be in making the most important decisions for the good of the Church and for the good of our parish community as well. We can imagine that our life, the life of the Church, and also the life of each parish would be much easier, more beautiful and peaceful if we called on the Holy Spirit more often, if we appealed to Him more often, and then if we could say after each of our decisions: ‘It has been decided by the Holy Spirit…’. Anyway, I am convinced that the difficult and turbulent history of the young Church with a lot of tensions and disagreements can teach us so many things, but most of all, taking responsibility for the Church and its future. And this is what we did a couple of weeks ago when we took part in the synodal process and when we expressed our personal opinions and views on the future of the Church.

There is one more very interesting aspect that we can find in that reading. I think that especially today we should remember that the Church community and also a parish community is not only a human organization with one leader or another, like a political party, but it is above all a supernatural and spiritual community that should draw its strength, wisdom and inspiration from above, from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need to remember this wonderful and miraculous gift that Jesus promises us when he says: ‘The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you’.

Today’s Gospel is a part of Jesus’ farewell speech to his disciples. They were saddened and fearful as we are at times. However, He told them, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. I am going away and shall return’. He was going to heaven to prepare a place for his friends, and we will celebrate this event this Thursday on Ascension Day. The Lord promised them that He would come back and take them to heaven. Earlier in the same Gospel, He said, ‘There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If there were not, I should have told you’. Also, He promised that while He is away, there will be someone else, who will help His followers in their earthly journey. ‘The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you’.

Jesus went to heaven to prepare a place for all of us, but he did not leave us alone. He promised, and not only promised, but indeed sent us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Through the Holy Spirit, we know that we are the beloved children of God and we can feel the peaceful presence of our Lord Jesus. This peace surpasses any earthly calmness. Jesus said: ‘Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you’. The Holy Spirit watches over us and teaches us through the Church, all that we need to know to get to heaven. The Holy Spirit guides us and comforts us each day when we experience doubts and different problems in our daily lives. As our Advocate, He defends us when we are attacked and discouraged while sharing the truth of the Gospel. Let us thank Jesus for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let us thank Him, that He has prepared a place in heaven for each one of us.

Now we can look forward with hope to the day when Jesus will return to take us to His everlasting home. Meanwhile, let us choose to live in a state of grace and be prepared for His second coming. With the power of the Holy Spirit, let us share with others our experience of God’s peace, love and joy that dwell in our hearts. Amen.

Fr Gregory