Home » GOSPEL REFLECTION – 6th Sunday of Easter

GOSPEL REFLECTION – 6th Sunday of Easter

Today we begin our journey towards Pentecost as our readings introduce us to the person of the Holy Spirit or, as Jesus calls him in the Gospels, the Advocate; he who acts and speaks on our behalf.  It’s interesting that in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles Peter and John have to go to Samaria – alien territory – in order that the converts there might “receive the Holy Spirit”.  They had been Baptised by Philip in the name of Jesus but had not received the Holy Spirit.  Today we presume that the two go hand in hand – Baptism and the coming of the Holy Spirit – but maybe this passage gives us another perspective to consider.

And when Jesus talks about the apostles receiving the Advocate in the Gospel today, he states not once, but twice, that the fruit of knowing the Holy Spirit is to love him, Jesus, and that loving him is expressed by keeping his commandments.  And this loving him and keeping his commandments means obedience to him and the Church that he founded to continue his ministry.

So, we are presented with two challenges, which in some senses become an examination of conscience for each of us: am I open to the Holy Spirit and do I keep Jesus’ commandments?  Pope St John Paul II said that when it comes to bringing the faith to those who don’t believe that three distinct groups of people were included: those who have never heard the Gospel; those who have lapsed from their faith; and those who may go to Church regularly, even weekly, but have never owned faith in Jesus for themselves.

Some of us will fall into this last category, and so, as we examine our consciences, we are asking ourselves: am I open to the Holy Spirit in the way that the apostles were, in the way that the people of Samaria were; do I experience the “great rejoicing” that the First Reading talks about and “know the reason for my hope” highlighted in the Second Reading?  If the answer is ‘no’, the Lord is inviting you, in prayer, to welcome the Holy Spirit into your life today, simply praying the most ancient prayer of the Church over and over: “come Holy Spirit”.  Similarly, if, as we reflect, we see that we’re not keeping the commandments of Jesus and his Church, maybe because they seem outdated or because we feel that we know better, the Lord is asking us to say sorry for our sin and again to pray: “come Holy Spirit”.  As we do, any blockages to receiving the grace of our Baptism will be removed, and the Holy Spirit will enable us to flourish like a freshly watered tree, enabling our roots to deepen into Christ and his teaching and the fruit of the Holy Spirit to grow to feed others in turn.

And remember, this is between you and the Lord.  There is no condemnation from any human being, even from ourselves, if we find that we’ve got things wrong, because God is mercy.  Throughout the Old Testament he calls himself “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love”, and this is revealed fully in Jesus.  If you want to see this expressed beautifully and powerfully take a look at the first series of The Chosen that is on YouTube at the moment; it will stir your love for God profoundly.  And one final thought.  God’s compassion and love are revealed intimately in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so, when we are finally able to celebrate the Sacraments again, make use of the Confessional and hear those powerful words spoken over you, “may God give you pardon and peace”, that you may know deep within you the profound “peace that the world cannot give”.  Come Holy Spirit!!!