Fr. John’s Homily – Sixth Sunday of Easter (5/17/2020)
With the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we move from our more continuous celebration of Easter and the Lord’s Resurrection to one of Easter and a welcoming of Pentecost and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is good to recall that in John’s Gospel Easter and Pentecost are more one while in Luke’s Gospel and Acts they are more separate actions within perhaps one movement.
In John it is the Risen Lord who on Easter night appears to The Eleven proclaiming, “Receive the Holy Spirit”. In Luke-Acts we move from resurrection through 40 days of visitation and teaching about The Kingdom, to Ascension and then 9 days of prayer and onto Pentecost. Further the Apostles’ number is restored to 12 with the selection of Mathias as an Apostle. Then comes the Twelve’s being “filled with the Holy Spirit”.
In John “where” is an important concern. Andrew at his first meeting with Jesus asks, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” As if in answer, so much later Jesus at the Last Supper tells The Twelve less Judas, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. … . Where I am going you know the way.” This “where” in John is our meeting place in the Spirit with the Father and Jesus. It is our common union, one in the other made possible by the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This “another Advocate” is our Advocate as Jesus is our Advocate. In the days of his earthly ministry Jesus stood by his disciples. The “another Advocate” is the Spirit; our Advocate through these days of Jesus return to the Father as we await his coming in glory. As an Advocate, Jesus has been at the side of The Twelve as Teacher, Master, and Lord. Now the Spirit is at our side that we might know within ourselves our union with Jesus and through Jesus reunion with the Father.
In his appearance to The Eleven, Jesus, the Risen Lord proclaims, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” In the opening chapters of John’s Gospel we are told that the purpose of the sending of God’s Son is, “that the world might be saved through him.” The Apostles too are sent. They are sent having been called to reconcile others and instructed that “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” The Spirit’s advocacy too is to send us, Jesus’ disciples out on mission. We read in the First Letter of Peter: “… be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for the reason for your hope.” Our Diocesan Vision 20/20 call is for each of us in our diocese, in our parish, and in all the settings of our lives to share the Good News of our salvation in the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
We are not orphans! We are never abandoned! In the Prologue of John’s Gospel we who accept Jesus have become, “children of God” and we have “life in his name”. Our status as sons and daughters of God is true and made known as we keep his commandments; to love God and to love neighbor as Jesus has loved us. In the First letter of John this is amplified as we read, “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1Jn 4:10)
As we recognize Jesus as our Risen Lord in these challenging times of COVID 19 burdens of loss of life and health, of social isolation, and economic upheaval all of which presents in varying ways and degrees of loss, it is for us to know that we who love one another are not abandoned. Delay and limitations are upon the reception of sacraments but there is neither withholding nor delay in the presentation of God’s love for you and me in Christ, Jesus.