6th Sunday of Easter
As we approach the end of the Easter season, our readings begin to focus on the descent of the Holy Spirit that awaits us on Pentecost. In our first reading, we have that beautiful scene where Peter and his disciples go to the house of Cornelius. Peter was prompted in a dream to go to Caesarea to accept into the Christian community the first Gentile–a Roman centurion named Cornelius.
And as he is preaching, suddenly the Holy Spirit is poured out upon Cornelius and his family and they begin speaking in tongues. Seeing the action of the Holy Spirit, Peter realized that God had chosen them and they are baptized and welcomed into the community.
The Gospel reading from John’s Gospel that we hear today is part of Jesus’ farewell discourse that he shares with his apostles as they are gathered for the Last Supper. In today’s gospel, Jesus invites his followers and each of us to be people of love –to be caught up in the love that we have already received from God.
I believe we all have experienced the profound joy that love brings. We know that without love we whither. And yet we are conscious that we fail in our attempts to love. Though we desperately long to love, bringing the same selfless, caring, non-judgemental love to others that we receive from God is a difficult task.
And when we find it hard to love, it’s then that we need to call upon the reserves of a love deeper than our natural affection. And that is to remind ourselves of the way God loves us. John makes this point: “This is love — not that we loved God, but God first loved us.”
Once we really begin to let that sink in — God first loved us — then, of course, our response will be to try to love in return. To be grateful, to be filled with gratitude, with joy, and to begin to experience the peace and the goodness of all that God is.
Today I invite you to reflect upon two things which are interior within us, two things that can be known only in their expression. One is love and the other is the Holy Spirit. Both cannot be really known in themselves; both are made real for us in their activity, in their expression, in their external manifestations that we bring into our lives.
As we all know love is not simply a nice feeling, a sentiment, or merely a warm emotion. Love becomes real in the decisions we make and in what we do. It is in its actions, actions that result from our choices, that love is realized. The Holy Spirit acts internally within each one of us.
The Holy Spirit is present within our hearts and souls, animating and inspiring us. And just like love, we discern the Holy Spirit’s presence within us when we cause external things to happen – when we act in accordance with the promptings and the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Love and the Holy Spirit - Both are realized in acts, in deeds, in things that are done.
As we approach the end of the Easter Season and prepare ourselves for the great feast of Pentecost, let’s hold on to the promise of the Spirit that keeps us all connected to God and one another in love. The Spirit of Truth not only teaches us a vision of life totally in harmony with the vision of God but also guides us in all our decisions, actions and relationships, so that we may live by that vision.
God calls each one of us to love with the same intense love that God has for us. As we experience his love anew, let us ask the Holy Spirit for his inspirations, that we really learn how to love. Let us also pray for the grace of God that we open our hearts to the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives.