The Sixth Sunday of Easter [A]
Acts 8:5-8,14-17 + 1 Peter 3:15-18 + John 14:15-21
May 21, 2017
“‘…the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept….’”
As the weeks of the Easter Season draw on, we hear more and more in our Scriptures about God the Holy Spirit. We hear less and less about Jesus, or so it might seem.
In the forty days between His Resurrection and His Ascension to Heaven, Jesus is—so to speak—weaning His disciples. He’s helping them realize that He’s not going to be with them in the same way anymore. He will be with them: He’ll be with them always, “unto the end of the age.” But He will not be with them physically as He was during the three years of His public ministry. He will not be at their sides to point the way, for them to talk with face-to-face.
Yet the Holy Spirit makes Jesus Christ present in a new way. This new way is through the Church. We hear about this in the midst of the Third Eucharistic Prayer at Holy Mass. Almost the whole second half of the Eucharistic Prayer—following the consecration—is about the Church. The priest prays one petition after another on behalf of the Church. In the Third Eucharistic Prayer, in the second petition following the consecration, the priest concretely prays about this, saying: “… grant that we, who are nourished by the Body and Blood of your Son, and filled with his Holy Spirit, may become one body, one spirit in Christ.” This goal is what the Easter Season leads us towards. This goal is the heart of the mystery of Pentecost.
This is why we all come together on the Lord’s Day: not only to be united with Jesus through Holy Communion, but also to be united more strongly with each other. The Mass—like the whole Christian life—is not just about me and Jesus. Coming together through the Mass is the greatest way that God has to unite us poor, fallen sinners into the one body of the Church. The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us see why and how this is.
The Holy Spirit, like the ligaments that hold parts of our physical bodies together, binds us together, to make us one body in Christ. Even when we are separated from our loved ones by great distances, or even by death itself, the Holy Spirit sustains our relationships. The Body of Christ cannot be diminished or destroyed by distance or death.
The Holy Spirit helps us love others even when it is difficult to do so. Everyone around us is an important part of our spiritual life, whether we want them to be or not. Everyone plays a part in our journey on the Way of Christ Jesus. Sometimes that Way is narrow. Sometimes it demands reconciliation. The Holy Spirit is not interested in “cheap love”. The Holy Spirit leads us into the sort of love that led Jesus to Calvary: the sort of love which allowed Christ to embrace the Cross as His Father’s gift.
Reflections on the Sacred Liturgy has a new feature: click on the image provided, and you’ll be taken to the USCCB webpage with audio of the day’s Scriptures. When you get there, click on the down arrow to download the audio.