The Promised Spirit
Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A (14/05/2023)
(Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Psalms 66:1-3,4-5,6-7,16,20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21)
Fr. Samuel Odeh
“And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth…” (John 14:16-17)
It is easy for us believers and those who are new to the faith to feel like outsiders in the Church sometimes even though Jesus has risen from the dead. It happens sometimes that in difficult and trying moments we feel abandoned by God and seem to be without his presence and help in our lives even though Jesus has risen from the dead. Our readings for this Sixth Sunday of Easter describes God’s enduring care in welcoming outsiders to the faith of Jesus Christ by giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit; his advice and counsel to Christian disciples when their faith is challenged; and Christ’s continued presence and care of his disciples after his physical departure.
In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the inhabitants of a city of the Samaritans, a people considered outsiders and unfaithful to God by the Israelites, welcomed and accepted Saint Philip’s preaching of the good news of the kingdom of God and the message of Jesus Christ and are baptized. The Apostles in Jerusalem heard of this and sent Saints Peter and John to them who came down and prayed over them and laid hands on them such that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this way, God welcomed a people formerly considered outsiders into the fullness of the life of the Church.
In our second reading from the first letter of Saint Peter, we see a practical application of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christian disciples. Another name for the Holy Spirit is “Advocate,” or “Paraclete,” a legal term that describes the Holy Spirit in the role of a lawyer who assists in our defense in a legal case. Saint Peter said to his listeners, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3:15). When our motives for trusting in Jesus are questioned, when asked why we continue going to Church, when asked why we continue making sacrifices in the name of Jesus, or for serving Christ through caring for the needs of others, the Holy Spirit comes to our defense. The Holy Spirit strengthens our hope in Christ when we face difficult and trying times.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus, speaking with his disciples at the Last Supper, promises to send them the Holy Spirit, another defender, and teacher, “another Counsellor,” who will be with them after they have seen him crucified. The disciples will be kept from being discouraged and Jesus will continue to be with them through the Holy Spirit. He said to them, “I will not leave you desolate…” (John 14:18). In other words Jesus will not leave us abandoned, or as another translation puts it, he will not leave us “orphaned.” So whenever we, as believers in the risen Christ, face challenges and difficulties and feel lonely and abandoned, let us lift up our souls to God in prayer and remember always that Jesus has promised his continued presence to us through the person of the Holy Spirit. He has promised to continue sharing his victorious life with us, also through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
“Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow
Because he lives, all fear is gone
And yes I know he holds my future
My life is worth living
Just because he lives.