Homily May 1, 2016 for 6th Sunday of Easter
“The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all I have told you.” These words are woven into Jesus’ message of love and peace to all his disciples. His followers have received a very special gift and teacher, namely the Holy Spirit, God himself. We see early on the apostles themselves learned a lesson themselves in their first dispute about requiring gentiles to be circumcised. Coming together, it seems that the Holy Spirit invoked common sense in enlightening the apostles that to be a Christian did not mean that someone would have to become a Jew. Their mission was to all, Jew and Gentile, a mission of faith and love, not at all related to nation or race. It was a real first lesson that men should not be too quick to judge and impose beyond what is truly necessary for true faith and love. How quick can any of us be to judge and consider that something is necessary or has to be done when in fact we have no idea of all conditions and circumstances. Laws and rules and traditions are meant to serve humanity and not the other way around. When they get in the way of belief there is a problem. The same problem comes about when we forget to respect other’s belief or their conscience. How many men of conscience in history met ignominious judgment only to be exonerated years later because the matter was not wrong. To stand for justice, the poor, or any other things Jesus taught is still not a popular thing. Jesus told us the poor would always be with us and we still need to care for them. Even today, we seem to forget or put aside the marginalized.
Beyond that, the Spirit is present to help and guide us today in ways unknown before. As humanity and knowledge and science advances, so does how we as Christians adapt to the times and circumstances of here and now. Not many Christians today are Shepherds or farmers or fishermen. Economic conditions, actual living conditions vary greatly throughout the world, but how quickly do we judge and relate only by what we see and live ourselves. Violence, war, hatred, thirst for power and all the imperfections of humanity remain and some lessons have been learned. Being open to the spirit means to live and learn and love and assist others without willing or imposing our own ideas and values on others. Learning what Jesus taught and what He said in today’s gospel: “Peace I leave you”, is urgent, but I ask, can we find that peace if we fail to love as he loved?