SUNDAY of the 6th Week of Easter
In the Gospel selection for this Sixth Sunday of Easter Jesus has the difficult task of saying good-bye to his followers: “I am going away and I will come back to you.” These words are found in the 14th chapter of John’s Gospel and the scene was the Last Supper. It must have been difficult for Jesus to say good-bye to his followers. Some of them had been with him for three years and saying good-bye to those who have been close to you is difficult.
Sometimes, saying good-bye is easy, especially if I know I or the ones I am saying good-bye to will soon return and we will be together again. But sometimes saying good-bye can be very difficult, especially if you don’t know when or if you will meet again. I was just thinking about the most difficult good-bye I ever had to say. In June of 1954 I was asked if I wanted to go to Rome for four years to finish my studies for the priesthood in the Eternal City. It sounded like a good idea. I was just a simple little guy from Ohio who had only been out of Ohio to go to Indiana and Minnesota for studies. Now I had the opportunity to see some of the far away places I had heard about all my life. The only difficulty was that there was to be no returning, even if there was a death in the immediate family (this has since changed). So when I said good-bye to my Mom and Dad before going to New York to catch the ship to Naples, I didn’t know if I would ever see them again. That was a difficult good-bye. Fortunately it happened that we had many more happy years together. And meeting them again in Rome for my ordination was a very happy reunion.
Think of a moment of the difficult good-byes you have had to say in your lifetime. And if you were reunited with these people, think of the joy of meeting again. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as the old saying has it. But sometimes the good-bye is permanent and we do not meet the loved one again. I had that happen just recently with the death of a dear friend from cancer. I had the opportunity to visit him while he was still alive and on leaving I told him that I would see him again in a couple of weeks. I did. But it was for his funeral. Have you had some sorrowful good-byes?
Jesus said goodbye to his disciples and to us as far as being with us physically was concerned. But fortunately his good-bye didn’t mean he was going to abandon us. He told his disciples he would not leave them orphans, that he would be with them always. And the same is true for us. Jesus is present to us, with us, in so many ways today. He is with us when we pray and meditate, when we attend Mass and receive Eucharist, and in our reception of the other Sacraments. He took great care to assure us that he would be with us always. Let us take advantage of his continued presence with us by being present to him as often as we can. And let us take extra care not to abandon Jesus with our own sinful ways. I don’t imagine he likes it either when we say good-bye to him.
P.S. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL YOU MOMS TODAY ON YOUR DAY! MAY THE GOOD LORD BLESS YOU AND WATCH OVER YOU ALWAYS. YOU ARE SO PRECIOUS TO HIM!
MONDAY of the 6th Week of Easter
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus tells us that he is our friend. What a wonderful thing to have him tell us! Friends have a loving relationship with one another. They get along and enjoy being in one another’s company. Friends can be trusted to do what they say they will do. They will be there for us when the times get tough. We can count on their presence. True friendships are really hard to come by and when we have a true friendship, we hate to do anything that will disrupt it or destroy it.
Friendship is a two-way street. Just like it takes two to tango, it takes two to be friends. That’s how it is with Jesus and ourselves. I know Jesus will do his part, I know I can count on him. How about the other way around? Can he count on me, does he know I will do my part in the friendship? We said some time ago in one of these homilies that Jesus’ love for us was self-less, sacrificial. Is my love for him the same way? Do I really enjoy being Jesus’ friend? Am I careful not to disrupt or upset this friendship?
Jesus, thank you for being my friend. Help me to continue to make it a two-way street.
TUESDAY of the 6th Week of Easter
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus tells his disciples the bad news that he is going to leave them. But there is some good news too — he is sending us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. The daily Gospels now are going to begin to advert to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the great Feast of Pentecost on May 27. We will see frequent mention of the Holy Spirit from now until then.
The Holy Spirit is given many names in Sacred Scripture: Consoler, Paraclete, Advocate, Counselor, Sanctifier, Spirit of Truth — just to name a few. We know there is only One God in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The many names given to the Spirit show the many attributes of God as the Third Person of the Trinity. The attributes of the Holy Spirit are even more numerous than those just listed if we include the gifts and fruits of the Spirit.
The seven Gifts of the Spirit may be found in Isaiah 11:2: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.” The gifts of the Spirit, then, are commonly listed as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The fruits of the Spirit are found in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians 5:22: “In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
These Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit make up a huge part of our spiritual lives. Let us reflect on them as we get ever nearer to the feast of Pentecost. And let us thank Jesus for sending the Spirit to us to bring us the abundant life of God.
Wednesday of the 6th Week of Easter
As we said above, the daily Gospels are now beginning to prepare us for the feast of Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Today’s Gospel names the Spirit the Spirit of Truth who will guide us to all truth. Truth is important to us. It is the object of our intellect. We seek the truth. In the words of St. Augustine: “Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you”. Jesus has told us he is the way, the truth and the life.
Truth corresponds to reality. 2+2=4 is truth. The Church, which Catholics recognize as both mother and teacher, assists her children in the process of seeking and finding the truth. As the community of the disciples of Jesus, the Church’s authority is expressed in the Scriptures, in Tradition, and in its magisterium or teaching power. These are the fonts of truth as expressed by the Church.
Briefly, Scripture is the story of God and God’s holy people. it spells out the parameters of living in covenant relationship with God. It teaches us the wisdom and truth of God. Through the Gospels, we come to know Jesus, the Son of God, who is the way, the truth and the life. The Tradition of the Church bears the Church’s accumulative wisdom, the wisdom that comes from the Christian community’s proclamation, celebrations, and transmission of its faith and truth down through the countless generations. The Magisterium, or teaching authority of the Church proclaims moral principles and truth and applies these things to our personal lives and the social order.
We also find truth in our conscience, which is a source of truth and our ultimate guide. Vatican II called our conscience “the most secret core and sanctuary of the individual,” that applies morality and truth to every day life. Over all of these fonts of truth stands the Spirit of Truth, our Sanctifier and Guide.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with your love, faith and truth. We need this truth so badly today.
THURSDAY of the 6th Week of Easter
The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) agree that the Ascension of the Lord happened on Easter Day, the first day of the week, closely following the Resurrection. Only the Acts of the Apostles, written by St. Luke, tells us the Ascension happened forty days after Easter. Luke, therefore, in one place says it happened on Easter Day and in another that it happened forty days after Easter. How can the same man write that the same event happened at two different times? Strange, to say the least!
The answer seems to revolve around the fact that Luke is looking at the Ascension from two different aspects. On the one hand, he is looking at it as an ending, the completion of Jesus’ mission as Messiah and in this scenario he writes that it happened on Easter Day. On the other hand, he is looking at the Ascension as the beginning of the Church’s future mission and to make that point clearer, Luke writes that the Ascension happened forty days after Easter.
For our purposes, let’s consider the Ascension as a beginning of our mission and ministry. The Angels on the scene in the Acts of the Apostles admonish the bystanders: “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” Almost like saying, the party is over, get to work. Don’t just stand there breathing good air!
We have a big job. We are responsible in our own little corner of the world for spreading the Gospel values of Jesus Christ. If we think there is something in society that needs improving according to this criterion, then let’s get at it. The time to start is now. And where do we start? In our own homes, in our neighborhood, in our workplace, in our parish. St. Francis admonished his Friars in his Rule of life: “Brothers, while we have time, let us do good.”
While we have time, let us spread the Gospel. The Ascension of Jesus sends us on this mission.
FRIDAY of the 6th Week of Easter
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Thus says Jesus to his disciples in today’s Gospel selection.
You know, there is one whale of a lot of suffering, pain, weeping and mourning in this world. People are dying, people are ill with all kinds of diseases, people are abandoned, people are in horrible accidents, there are floods, tornados, wind storms, forest fires and home fires, plane crashes and on and on. There is a lot of pain and suffering in this world when you come right down to it.
And there are many people that blame all this pain and suffering on God. You often hear the objection: How can a good and loving God allow all this to happen? And they go from here to denying the existence of God. This is the problem of evil in the world. It has caused men and women to wonder and become frustrated since the beginning of the world. How can this happen?
Don’t look to me for an answer. But I do have a few thoughts on the matter. All of this becomes easier for me to bear by realizing that God doesn’t cause all this pain and suffering to happen. God knows that it is happening. God knows all things. But this is not to say that his knowledge is always causative. Just because he knows something doesn’t mean he causes it. Makes sense to me. I know it is going to get dark tonight but my knowledge doesn’t cause the darkness.
Also God made us and the laws of nature free. Every time I am going to commit a sin, God doesn’t step in and take away my freedom to prevent me from sinning. Nor does he step in and take away the freedom of the forces of nature when they spawn a tornado. To say he should step in and stop it would be to demand a constant procession of miracles.
Oftentimes it also seems to me that we are responsible for the pain causing disasters and diseases and, if we chose to do so, could will to do things differently so as to avoid the pain. Many times we are to blame, not God. God didn’t throw all that junk up into the atmosphere that is causing a warming trend in our world that is causing draught that in turn is causing forest fires and violent storms. We did!
Why don’t we ask what we can do to stop the evil and pain in the world? And then do it! We know much of this but we keep ignoring it, hoping it will all go away.
Saturday of the 6th Week of Easter
“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”
What could I possibly ask for that would make my joy complete, full, overflowing? Would a Cadillac do it? How about two holes in one in a row? Or maybe if my sore leg got better after years of being a problem? Would any of these things make my joy complete? I doubt it.
I can really think of only one thing that would cause this: a complete and total surrender to the will of God in my life. I have surrendered to his will for me to get rid of the disease of active alcoholism in my life. I know surrender works and I also know I should do it in other areas of my life. But I don’t. Why not? I don’t know the answer to that question. I have a lot of reasons I offer as excuses, but that is all they are, excuses.
Right now I don’t see myself becoming completely joy-filled. This is another of those areas, I believe, where the best I can do is make progress and the closer I come to changing other areas in my life, the better off I will be and the more joy I will have.
Lord, my human weakness just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Please help me and continue to be there for me. There is so much in life I do not understand.