Pastor's Blog - May 17, 2020
Sixth Sunday of Easter
For the last two months, we’ve witnessed remarkable examples of one of the twin commandments of love that Jesus taught so often in his public ministry: “love your neighbor as yourself.” In the midst of the “community spread” phase of the coronavirus, we’ve seen medical personnel (doctors, nurses, physician assistants, technicians, etc) work countless hours, sometimes without adequate personal protective gear, to take care of their infected patients. We’ve become more acutely aware of the tireless work of first responders (firefighters, police officers, EMTs, ambulance drivers, etc.) risking their own health on a daily basis to come to the aid of their stricken neighbors wherever and whenever they are needed. We’ve heard stories of Good Samaritans delivering food to isolated or homebound individuals; and accounts of private donors providing masks, and gowns and ventilators to hospitals. All of the people mentioned above have turned a disaster into an extraordinary example of loving service to those in need. Moreover, it seems that a vast majority of our fellow citizens have heeded the guidance we’ve received about washing our hands frequently, and practicing social distancing, and staying at home except for necessary trips to buy groceries or pick up prescriptions. Since the coronavirus has barged into our lives, there are plenty of examples all around us of the golden rule: “do to others as you would have them do to you.”
On this Sixth Sunday of Easter, we listen in on St. John’s account of Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples at the Last Supper. In this extended speech to his followers, Jesus is trying to prepare them for his coming passion and death, and to reassure them of his future presence after his resurrection. His dual purpose in this address is: 1) to instruct his disciples on how they should behave once he is gone; and 2) to promise his disciples that he will not leave them orphans but will remain with them always through his Holy Spirit. Jesus sums up his directives to his disciples on their post-Resurrection behavior by urging them to obey his commandments of love, telling them: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Then, Jesus promises his followers that he will send them another “Advocate,” who is “the Spirit of truth.” This Advocate or Divine Counselor is none other than the Holy Spirit who is sent to serve us like a defense attorney standing beside his or her client, advising and comforting them, and interceding on their behalf.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles this weekend illustrates how the Spirit infuses Jesus’ disciples with divine power and grace so that they may love their neighbor as themselves. In this passage, Philip proclaims Christ in word and deed, releasing people from unclean spirits, curing many persons who were paralyzed or crippled, and baptizing them. Later on, Peter and John travel from Jerusalem to Samaria, to prayerfully lay hands on them, so that they could be confirmed and receive the full measure of the Holy Spirit’s gifts.
My friends, in the current days of trial that we are experiencing, may we all strive to demonstrate our love for Jesus by extending loving service to others. Blessings to all of you in the week ahead!