Sunday, May 9, 2010

Homily – May 9, 2010 – Sixth Sunday of Easter

+ It is certainly not difficult to understand that "two parting-gifts" ought to be much better than just one. Who would not want "a double dose of good things?" Today Jesus is preparing the Apostles for his departure from them – very soon – by now telling them "to prepare themselves for a very interesting pair of parting gifts:" he promises to send them "the HOLY SPIRIT and PEACE." Either would have been amazing by themselves – but together they are a truly awesome jackpot of prizes!

It is his death and resurrection that made possible the gift of the Spirit. Out of his pierced side as he hung dead on the cross came Blood and water – symbolizing the life-giving Spirit that is now available to all. And the risen Jesus "breathed" the Spirit into the disciples with the words: "Receive the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Spirit, who will teach and remind us of everything that Jesus told us, is the instrument of bringing about the peace that Jesus promises to give us. This kind of peace is not as the world gives it, which is often merely the absence of warfare or conflict, something illusory and transitory. Jesus, on the other hand, promises us God's own peace, a permanent and complete well-being and harmony with God and with one another. This Spirit of Peace, however, is the Spirit of Forgiveness: which makes it so very different from all other kinds of peace. And so it is when we allow the given Holy Spirit of God to move us to enter into situations and circumstances of experiencing the giving and receiving of forgiveness that we experience the true and lasting peace that God wants us to have. No one is perfect, yet! Forgiveness, empowered and brokered by the Holy Spirit of God himself, must be a substantial part of our Christian experience or we are missing out on a major portion of it! Because we are baptized we are all called to be filled with peace and to be peacemakers: let us joyfully take up this task and experience God, communion with one another and peace among us, as we are intended to!

In the first reading today we see the apostles and elders in Jerusalem acting as peacemakers, invoking the Holy Spirit directly, to settle the dispute as to whether Gentile converts to Christianity had first to become Jewish, if only for a short while (become salvation must "come from the Jews"). The Holy Spirit himself made his intentions known and it was not necessary for this to happen. And, the deep peace of God resulted and the spread of Christianity took a leap forward.

In the gospel passage Jesus tells the disciples clearly that he was to leave them in a short while, and that another Advocate would be sent in his name to teach them everything, and remind them of all that he told them. Then he gave them the gift of peace: deep, pervading, abiding peace. Don't let your hearts be troubled! Do not be afraid of being a member of my community! You are safe in my care! The combined gift of Spirit and Peace – these were for the early Church, these are for us – if we want them, if we ask for them, if we forgive (as we are forgiven).

Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him!

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