Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
My homily, recorded at the Vigil Mass at Our Lady of Fatima
Saturday, May 16, 2020
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Jesus tells us in today’s gospel reading that the only way we can demonstrate our love for him is by keeping his commandments. To “keep his commandments” is not ULTIMATELY about faithfully keeping a specific set of rules, but of keeping a way of life, a life of being a disciple of Christ.
To be like Christ and follow him faithfully is simply not possible for us to do on our own.
He was true man, but he was also true God – something that is beyond our limited understanding.
If we depend just on our own strength, intelligence, and personality, we will never be able to fulfill the commandment that Jesus has given us – not all the time, not every day.
If we try to follow Christ on our own we will become bitter, frustrated, burned out, angry, or depressed.
We were never meant to do it alone. Jesus knows we can’t do it alone.
That’s why he gave us the sacrament of confirmation, the sacrament of supernatural strengthening.
In today’s reading from the Book of Acts, we learn of the importance of the sacrament of confirmation. Philip the Deacon preaches the Gospel in Samaria and baptizes a huge number of converts.
This is the beginning of their Christian lives.
But when the news gets back to the Apostles in Jerusalem, Peter and John make a special trip to Samaria in order to call down the Holy Spirit upon them – to administer confirmation.
This is what Jesus was speaking about when he promised that after he returned to heaven he would send us an “Advocate, to be with us always.”
The Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, who resides in our hearts.
The Holy Spirit, this Spirit of truth whom the world can not accept. is Christ’s greatest gift to us. It is our source of supernatural light and strength to live out the great commandment of Christian love, of Christian discipleship.
It’s not easy to live as a disciple of Jesus in our world, is it? But it’s never been easy. This is why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, to strengthen us and give us the grace we need to become authentic disciples.
Keeping Jesus’ commandments, his way of life, his way of looking at the events of our world and how we respond to them, is our true mission in life…the mission we will all be held accountable for on our judgement day. The mission that only the power of the Holy Spirit can enable us to carry out.
When we die Jesus is not going to reward us for how many hours we put in at work, how much money we made, or for the fact that we were a “good person.”
No, we will be rewarded for how many souls encountered Christ as a result of our witness.
As a result of our love and concern for the good of others.
We’ll each be accountable for how we responded to the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us so generously in our baptism and confirmation.
What’s most important, is that we love God with our whole being and demonstrate that love by keeping his commandments, by living a way of life like Christ lived. This the most important thing we need to accomplish in our short lives. Nothing else really matters.
Before we can really love others, it’s essential that we understand the depth of God’s love for us. In a daily gospel reading earlier this week, Jesus tells us that he loves us as the Father loves HIM! He showed us the depth of his love when he freely embraced the cross and gave his life in atonement for our sins!
Love is the act of giving one’s life away for the sake of others. We show our love for God by being concerned more for the needs of others than we are for our own needs. We are called to do this in our marriages, our families, our community and our nation. God is love and to have God’s love is to live like Jesus lived; to offer your life for the sake of others, rather than to live it for yourself.
Remember, only by keeping God’s commandments, by keeping the way of life that Christ kept, do we remain in his love. And only by remaining in his love do we find true joy and happiness.
Pray with me:
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.“