Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn. 14:23-29
During today's First Reading, we can perceive how Paul, Barnabas, Barsabbas, Silas, the apostles and the elders answered their call to do all things in the spirit. Embracing a spiritual mind, these followers of Jesus placed the Divine Will of God first. They faithfully served the Lord for the common good of all. By subjecting themselves to the authority of the Church, they sacrificed their personal opinions. In the first reading and the whole of Acts of the Apostles, the Apostles did not make any decisions without consulting the Holy Spirit. Also, they could not carry out any severe mission without the Holy Spirit.
As Jesus was about to ascend to his father, he promised to send the Advocate to his disciple. The Holy Spirit is the power of Jesus and Jesus continued presence in the world.
We want to have Jesus with us always - in our house, just like Zacchaeus had Jesus in his house. There is a beautiful invitation from Jesus today. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
If we love Jesus and keep his word Jesus will come to us and live with us. And when we have Jesus, we have peace unlike anything the world can give you. As Jesus says in our Gospel today: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
There was a joke about a party member not giving everything to the party.
Two party members were talking to each other:
“Do you love the party?”
“Yes, I love the party, I would give my life for the party.”
“If you had 2 million dollars, would you give money to the party?”
“If I got 2 million dollars I would give everything to the party.”
“And if you had a house in the Riviera, would you give it to the party?”
“Absolutely, I would give everything, the party to me is everything.”
“And the motorcycle?”
“Stop. The motorcycle is mine.”
We see in the lives of some of the saints the transformation that occurred in them when they gave up everything and turned fully to Jesus. St. Ignatius Loyola and his brother Pedro lived a wild youth. But when Ignatius was injured in battle, he began reading the Life of Christ and lives of the saints while he was recuperating. He noticed that he had a sense of peace while he was reading these but not when he turned his mind to other things. We see a similar transformation in the life of St Augustine. He grew up in Carthage in North Africa and also led a wild youth. He moved to Rome to take up a teaching position, and then later to Milan to take another teaching position. While there he heard St. Ambrose preaching but was not yet ready to give himself fully to the Lord. Finally, one day a line in Bible struck him so deeply that he was able to give his life totally to God.
Devasahayam Pillai will be India’s first common person to become a saint. Devasahayam Pillai began his career as an official in the palace of Maharaja Marthanda Varma, King of Travancore, His transformation took place when he was inspired by Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, a Dutch naval officer. He gave up everything even his high office for the sake of his faith. He was jailed and martyred after facing growing difficulties.
There is something in our lives that is preventing us from totally following Jesus. Jesus calls us to give up those things that prevent us from doing the work of peace, justice, and service to others. He knew that no matter how important the kingdom of God appears, things will get in the way—particularly things near to our heart: family, possessions, and even life itself. Jesus told his followers that they might have to sell their possessions if they get in the way. Jesus warned his disciples that they might even have to give up their lives.
The greatest demand that Jesus places on us is to practice unconditional love: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
There is a short little story of an elderly man. An elderly man hurried to his 8:00am doctor appointment, he wanted to finish quickly so that he could get to another appointment. The doctor asked what it was, and the old man proudly said that every morning at 9:00am he would go to the hospital and have breakfast with his wife.
The doctor asked what her condition was, and he replied that for the past 5 years his wife has had Alzheimer’s and hasn’t known who he is. The doctor asked the old man why he continued to visit her for she had no idea who he was…and the old man replied…” Because I still know who she is.”
When we are ready to give up what we consider as precious and practice unconditional love, our transformation will take place. It will bind us to Jesus and we will begin to experience the peace that Jesus has offered us.