Happy 6th Sunday of Easter

05-14-2023Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian Manning

We read and hear in this weekend’s Gospel, that Jesus promises the Spirit. John is the only gospel writer who records this very long talk at the Last Supper. Learned scripture scholars theorizes that when John assembled his Gospel, he chose to set these words of Jesus at the Last Supper. This particular position of his words accents strongly their importance and invites us to pay close attention. The words of Jesus become clearer after his death and resurrection. We also need to remember that John goes out of his way to remind us that at the end of his Gospel, he comments that if he were to write down everything Jesus did, there wouldn’t be enough books in the world to contain what could be written. We have more than enough of the Lord’s words recorded in this Gospel.

Through the inspiration of the Spirit, he writes about Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit. In the dark night that precedes the darker Good Friday, Jesus utters these words of comfort. He promises to give his followers a helper, an advocate, or a mediator who is often called the Paraclete. Jesus reminds the apostles that where the Paraclete is, there he also will be. The words of Jesus must be accepted by the apostles; however it will take time for them to realize what Jesus means and how they are to answer.

The second reading which is from the Acts of the Apostles, tells us of the miracles and marvels that is going on around the apostles and early believers. We learn of the work of the deacon Philip and also of Peter and John. Philip the deacon baptizes; Peter and John journey from Galilee to Samaria to confer with the Holy Spirit. We hear that God’s grace is abundant, marvels abound and joy reaches new heights. We learn that the Spirit is at work because of the kindness and generosity of God.

Even though from the stories of scripture we have very good reason to be wary of Peter; he is the one Jesus chose to lead the rest. The Acts of the Apostles clearly shows him as the leader. In the second reading, we hear the sweet voice of reason. Scholars tell us that this letter was composed about 64 A.D. and was sent from Rome to Gentile Christians living in northeast Asia Minor. These Christians were a beleaguered minority. The persecution they experienced was quite subtle, but effective. Their treatment was emotionally and physically exhausting. Peter knows this, and gives them wise, experienced and comforting advice. He encourages inner strength, gentleness of manner and speech. He requests forbearance rather than retaliation which is quite contrary to human nature. He asks all of this because of their faith in Christ, who is the Lord whom they are called to imitate.

We need to know that the promised Paraclete is as strongly among us as it was on that first day. The Church is assuredly guided. We should find it necessary to deepen our awareness of the abiding Spirit. It is during this Easter Season that we should seek the Spirit, our Paraclete, as a source of strength in our daily lives.