Cycle (A) 6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; I Peter 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21

Our history shows that there are many schools of thought that sprout up, flourish a little while, and sink into oblivion with the death of the master. There were many religious movements that exerted influence for a short while, disappeared forever with the extinct of their leader. Many kingdoms were established, but they failed to survive after
the death of the founding king. Many empires were built but they disintegrated with the extinct of the emperor. One of the greatest examples is that of Alexander, the Great.

Alexander established a massive empire. It extended to the boundaries of the then known world. But the empire was short lived. After his death it was divided and lost its prominence.

In the whole of history there is only one empire that grew from strength to strength after the physical disappearance of its leader. That is the empire Jesus. Jesus founded his church and entrusted it to a group of insignificant men. They were insignificant in every sense of the world. They were not educated. They were not well versed in martial art. They were not wealthy. They had nothing of worldly glory to boast of.

During His life time, Jesus himself had not crossed the boundaries of Judea. He has not sent envoys to the kings and emperors. He has not set up diplomatic ties with the East and the West. He had no business treatise with any nation. Instead, He entrusted his mission to a group of insignificant men.  It was up to them to take the message of Jesus to the ends of the world. In order to enable them for that mission Jesus had promised a helper, the Paraclete.

When Jesus told the Apostles that he would send them the Paraclete they understood the meaning of Jesus’ words. The contemporaries of the apostles used the word in a variety of meanings. He might be a person called in to give witness in a law court in someone’s favour. He might be an advocate to plead the cause of someone under a charge. He might be an expert called in to give advice in some difficult situations. He might be a person called in to energize the dispirited soldiers.

The Holy Spirit did all these in the life of the Apostles. When the Apostles were bound and set before the court of law, the Holy Spirit was with them to putting the right answer in their mouth. He spoke through them.  In difficult situations, where the Apostles were not able to take some crucial decisions, He was with them serving them with the right decisions. When they were discouraged, and depressed He was there to revitalize them. Thus the helper, promised by Jesus was with them always.

Today’s first and second readings show us how the Spirit worked in the everyday activities of Jesus’ first followers. The First reading describes the success of Philip, the Deacon, among the despised Samaritans. Owing to the vigorous persecution which began in Jerusalem after the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the disciples had been dispersed. Philip turned the dispersal into an opportunity to preach the Gospel message by taking it to Samaria.

Philip gives us a very valuable message. Every situation in our life is planned by God. It is up to us to see the hand of God in it and make it into an opportunity to do something good.

“Those who joyfully leave everything in God’s Hand will eventually see God’s Hand in everything. Worries end where faith begins!”

Jesus made it clear to the Apostles that the world cannot recognize the Spirit.  The point Jesus emphasized is that we can see only what we are fitted to see. An astronomer will see far more in the sky than an ordinary man. A botanist will see far more in a hedgerow than an ordinary man. An artist will see in a picture more than that an ordinary man sees. A musician will get far more out of a symphony than someone who understands nothing. Likewise a person who has eliminated God from his life finds it difficult to see the Hand of God in the happenings of his life.

The Origin of this promise can be traced back to the Old Testament. In the days of the Prophets God had promised to make a new covenant (Jer 31:31) with His people. He had promised to put His law within His people. He had promised to put a new Spirit within His people, to remove their hearts of stone and to give them a heart of flesh. St. Paul tells us that all these promises have been fulfilled.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit was at work with the Judges, with the Prophets and with the Apostles, Now the Holy Spirit is at work with us. Our empire is one that will grow from strength to strength as decades and centuries pass by.

As the Apostles took the message to the ends of the world, it is our responsibility to take the message of Jesus to our contemporaries. The Spirit of God was with the Apostles to help them. Now the Spirit of God is with us to help us. Recognize it and open our hearts to the Spirit of God, and allow it to work through us.