The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

6th Easter Sunday – year B

Acts 8, 5-8. 14-17; Psalm 66; 1 Peter 3, 15-18; St. John 14, 15-21

Reading 1                             Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm                                  Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.

Reading II                             1 Pt 3:15-18

Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.

Gospel                                              Jn 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

Consistency, integrity or contradiction?

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth
In today’s Gospel Jesus is talking about two the most fundamental concepts of our life: the love and the truth. In our multicultural and tolerant world both: and love and truth are not only misused but abused and denied. Instead of love we have sex and pornography, instead of truth we are proposed relativism and falsely understood tolerance, where everybody has his own private truth.

And so we can ask a legitimate question: “What is love? What does it mean to love?” Jesus is answering it in the most direct and clearest way: If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” And so we can continue to question further: “What are the commandments I should keep?” This question was already asked in the Gospel by a young rich man who would like to be a disciple of Christ. (Mk 10:17-20)

Young rich man asked "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him: “You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.”

Am I able to say together with this young man: “Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy." If not why do I say that I love God?

During his last visit in USA Pope Benedict XVI said:
While it is true that this continent is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior.

Þ  Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs?
Þ  Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death?
Þ  Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel (…)
Þ  How can we not be saddened as we observe the sharp decline of the family as a basic element of Church and society?
Þ  Divorce and infidelity have increased, and many young men and women are choosing to postpone marriage or to forego it altogether.
Þ  To some Catholics, the sacramental bond of marriage seems scarcely distinguishable from a civil bond, or even a purely informal and open-ended arrangement to live with another person.
Þ  Hence we have an alarming decrease in the number of Catholic marriages in the North America together with an increase in cohabitation, in which the Christ-like mutual self-giving love (..) is simply absent.

In such circumstances, a deep reflection is arising: “Is my life consistent and integral or rather contradictory? I pretend to love Jesus, but do I keep also His commandments?”

And the second concept of today’s Gospel, the concept of truth.

Þ  What does it mean that the Father will send us the Spirit of truth?
Þ  We are afraid of the truth.
Þ  For many of the contemporary Catholics the truth is very inconvenient, awkward, problematic and tiresome.

Especially if this truth is not going together with my wishes and desires.

Today many live without belief in the existence of truth. Some use the word without understanding its authentic meaning, as if it can denote only a personal opinion, a thing that is "true" only for the individual who holds that idea. This widespread relativism, the system of thought which refuses to affirm that any one idea or law can apply to all persons, is "true", has crept with increasing power like an infection into the body of the Church.

The Church cannot be the Body of Christ unless the Church leads us into all the truth, for Christ is the Truth. The Church cannot teach the truth without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit of truth, for the human members of the Church are incapable of grasping and remaining faithful to the Word of truth without divine grace. The Lord promised the gift of the Holy Spirit so that man might persevere in the truth and so be saved.

To love Jesus means to trust him. And that means that we trust his radical teaching about an ideal of unselfish love with all –even the most difficult- consequences off this love.

Jesus knows that his teaching seems unpromising and so he sends to those who try to be unselfish an Advocate who is the "Spirit of truth." This divine Spirit will be present to our inmost being and will assure us that the path traced out by Jesus will in fact lead to freedom and joy. This powerful Spirit will also guide us in knowing how to love properly in all the circumstances of our lives. But our obligation and our deepest task is to not put the obstacles to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

How we can recognize that we have the Spirit of Christ and not the spirit of the world?
St Paul in the letter to the Galatians gives us the clear answer:

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;

But the deeds of the flesh are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, conflicts, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, egoism, and things like these, of which I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-23)

And once again the same question is arising: “Is my life consistent and integral or rather contradictory? I pretend to believe Jesus, but do I live according to His Spirit of truth?”

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