May 25, 2014 Sixth Sunday of Easter Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17 1 Peter 3:15-18 John 14:15-21
As soon as I came of age, I took great pride in being able to care for myself. I had a job, went to school, paid my own bills and had a car. I treasured my parents and my siblings but it never occurred to me how much of my self-confidence and sense of security came from their presence in my life. Then the day came when my Mom died. I suddenly thought of myself as an orphan. I knew the meaning of that word and the full impact of what I had lost hit me.
Today’s Gospel reminds me of that time. Christ’s disciples must have felt like I did. Jesus had a central place in the life of his followers. They had become accustomed to having him take care of their needs and their wants. Most important, he was there for them. Only slowly did the realization of what the future would bring begin to take hold.
This is what has been called Jesus’ farewell address. It is a lengthy discourse that we explore over several Sundays. It is particularly helpful to read it in its entirety. I’m sure that the followers of Jesus had already begun to feel uneasy as he spoke about leaving them. “In a little while I will be with you no longer.” The confidence they felt when he was near was dissipating. Today, though, we hear the all-important words.” I won’t leave you alone…”I will not leave you orphans.” “I will give you another advocate.”
Through the ages, we have discovered the importance of the Advocate sent to us by Jesus but we are sometimes oblivious of the ways in which the Holy Spirit acts in our lives. We sometimes forget that it is the Holy Spirit who leads and as Pope Francis reminds us, “…the Holy Spirit can be unpredictable.” From the very beginnings of Christianity, the Pope said, church leaders and members have been tempted at times to block the Holy Spirit's path or try to control it. More often than not, I believe, we simply have not recognized the Holy Spirit in our lives or in the lives of others.
St. Peter’s letter counsels us to “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” The Gospel reminds us of that reason. We are not orphans. The Holy Spirit is with us always and the Father loves us because we love Jesus. The spirit of love has been born and this spirit welcomes the Holy Spirit into our midst.