Homily 6th Sunday of Easter 14th May 2023
The first reading over these past few weeks has been a passage from the book of Acts. And they have pictured that kind of euphoria, that sense of having made it, having triumphed, that the early Church must have felt.
But this Gospel passage today begins to temper that sense of completeness, of having arrived at the end of the journey of faith. John wrote this Gospel perhaps some sixty years after the life of Christ. And over those years, he must have come to see that the sense of completeness, of triumph, had been just a little bit misplaced. From all that had happened, it was clear that God had chosen us, now it must be made clear that we have chosen God.
So, the long, sometimes painful, but always valuable process of reforming oneself from within, of bringing one’s mind and heart into accord with the mind of God, is the process to which we are called by the saving power of Christ. But once called we are certainly not abandoned in this process. Rather, Christ calls us to become personally involved in the process of our own salvation precisely because he himself is so intimately involved in the process of salvation. If it is sometimes easy to say ‘no’ to the call of faith, it is never necessary to do so, no matter how difficult the situation may seem to be.
Christ promises to send the Holy Spirit who will be for each of us the spirit of truth, who will urge us from within to follow the way of truth. If we are open to the guidance of the Spirit, our choices will be Christ’s own.
God’s love causes Jesus to promise to us another advocate, and the Holy Spirit is the best gift in love God can give, stands beside us, comforts us when we ask, helps us in difficult times. Although people with no religious faith comfort one another, our fellowship in the Spirit is deeper and more awesome. That doesn’t mean ecstatic speech or luminous visions. The Holy Spirit is most often more quiet and simple – and more available – than some people believe.
All spiritual life, all holiness comes from the Father through Jesus by the action of the Holy Spirit. From time to time, if we have the sensitivity to perceive it, we are aware of what’s happening as we truly share the spirit with one another. The spirit is present in our common kindness, loving concern for another, and bursts of inspiration.
Sometimes, though, we are fearful of those touching experiences, not knowing how to handle the motion that often surrounds them. In other words, we sometimes give the spirit a difficult time breaking through. But the spirits coming will happen whenever we love God enough to keep his commands.
There are two signs that can help tell us whether or not we are following the guidance of the spirit.
The spirit calls us to the Church. We are invited as a people, and we must respond as such. If a choice we make, a way of life we build for ourselves, leads us further away from such communion, leads us to be influenced by and interact with fewer and fewer of God’s people in worship, in participating in the sacraments, then it is a bad choice, we are blocking out the moving of the spirit.
And the spirit urges us to wholeness, an integrity, and the real satisfaction that such brings with it. Put more negatively, if we screw up our lives, if we are deaf to the call of the spirit, then something in us hurts. If our lives are marked consistently by a dissatisfaction, a sense that something is wrong here, an emptiness, then that is a fairly good sign that we may be missing the direction in which the spirit is trying to lead us. It is true that the life of grace may not always be easy or comfortable or pleasant. But followed honestly and persistently, it will feel right.