Sixth Sunday of Easter
Today’s Gospel, taken from the Last Supper’s address, looks ahead to two events soon to be celebrated, the Ascension in four days, and Pentecost in fifteen. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his departure. He promises that He will not leave them alone but will send the Holy Spirit.The Spirit is our Lord’s special and necessary gift to his followers. The Spirit comes to a person in a special way through the sacrament of Confirmation, which completes the Sacrament of Baptism. “The Paraclete is the one who comforts, cheers, encourages, persuades, exhorts, urges forward.
The Gospel offers today a great deal of consolation. We are promised the life of the Holy Spirit. At the Last Supper, Jesus urges his followers to persevere in love and obedience to his commands. He makes it clear that he will depart from them. They will no longer see him, but must be confident that he will stay with them, as long as they persevere in love and obedience to all that he has taught and shown them.
Jesus promises another Paraclete, that is, another helper or advocate. He has been and will continue to be the first helper, but another will come. Jesus is our Paraclete because he pleads the cause of his disciples with the Father; the other Paraclete is the Spirit of Truth. The disciples, therefore, will have a helper in heaven and another one on earth. The Holy Spirit represents the continued divine presence to assist the disciples in carrying out the mission of Jesus in the world. The Paraclete will not only be with the disciples, he will also stay within them. He will teach them everything and make them remember all that Jesus has said.
The Church has been endowed with the Holy Spirit from the very beginning, and, with his divine help, has guided her children, at all times, in matters of faith and morals. The Holy Spirit is received by everyone who is baptized. It is received in a special way in the sacrament of Confirmation, which completes the sacrament of Baptism. We also know that a person who is sincerely sorry for his sins and receives the sacrament of Penance, will receive it; hence the sacrament of Penance is sometimes called a second Baptism.
The Holy Spirit can be a marvelous force in our lives, if we so desire. What must we do? Love Jesus, and his heavenly Father will also love you. Love Jesus, and the Holy Spirit will descend upon you: He who obeys my commandments… loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him. Those followers of Jesus who conduct themselves in love and obedience cannot but find God. The Spirit who is to come, the advocate, the councelor, will assure this.
Jesus speaks about what it means to love him: Loving includes keeping his commandments. If I say I love him but do not keep his commandments, I simply contradict myself.
What commandments was He talking about? Clearly he wasn’t talking about the Ten Commandments. We are not talking about clearly defined rules and commandments, but about guidelines and signposts he left his followers… A new spirit, a whole new set of values and attitudes towards God, towards other people, and towards life itself… How can we call ourselves followers of Jesus if we do not try to do the things he urged his followers to do, and to avoid the things he urged them to avoid?
Here is a short list of Don’ts; Do not return evil for evil… Do not judge your neighbor… Do not worry about food, and drink, and clothes… Do not store up treasures for yourselves here on earth… Do not look back once you have put your hand to the plough… And a list of Do’s: Let your light shine before people… Love your enemies… Give and you will receive in abundance… Forgive everyone who sins against you… Take this bread and eat it. Take this cup and drink it… And the commandment that sums them all up: love one another, the way I have loved you.