Sixth Sunday of Easter
When a parent is very sick or is dying, the children (and close relatives) usually come together around him, and tell him how much they love him. They are sad and seek advices and listen intently to him/her. Many times they try to keep him alive longer, so that they can have more time with him, and share more wonderful experiences with him. The dying person usually just listens. Yet never does a dying person say, “I will come back for you.” If ever, the children would probably tell him to just go, and not to come back. Who wants to see a dead man walking, anyway?
Jesus, when He was leaving this earthly life, promised His disciples that He would return for them, and would not leave them orphans. But they still did not understand this; and Jesus promised them the Holy Spirit, another advocate. This was a promise for the disciples not to be sad, a promise that their joy would be complete, and a promise that He would teach them all they needed, and remind them of all that they were taught.
Thus, Jesus, through His disciples, left us the following:
1. A gift – the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Many gifts can be used, kept, displayed or given away. When Jesus gave the gift of the Eucharist, He intended it to be Himself, a way of life, a life of holiness. He said, “Do this in memory of Me.” Jesus is the life, the way and the truth. On earth there is no other way, life or truth that will lead us all to the Father.
2. A recommendation – his commandment of love. We might argue that love has the power of liberty, and command has the clout of submission. But Jesus was not speaking of our love in the first place. He was expressing His love for us. “As the Father loves Me, so do I love you. Live in my love” (Jn 15:9). Love can only be expressed in actions befitting the dignity of the person. Many expressions of care and concern are so abused in our society because they are selfish; they seek something in return, they seek to be paid. The love of Jesus is selfless. It only leads to the Father, and makes our joy complete.
3. A promise – the Holy Spirit with his abundance of gifts. The apostles received the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. They received that ardent love for the Word of God, to live the Word and to share the Word. It was the burning love of the Holy Spirit that brought back the 2 disciples from Emmaus to Jerusalem, to be with the others. It was the burning love of the Holy Spirit that gave the Apostles the courage to preach before emperors, Jews, gentiles, and to all nations. It was the burning love of the Holy Spirit that gave them the courage to face martyrdom for the sake of the Kingdom and for the Glory of God.
This is also the same Holy Spirit:
– that leads us to come to church on Sundays and Holy days, rather than to other places that we can actually do some other time;
– that brings faithful couples to reconciliation, rather that stay alienated from one another for a long time;
– that reconciles brothers and sisters, rather than quarrel about just little things in the family;
– that leads us to listen to the teachings of the Church and to abide by them;
– that makes us aware of the plight of the poor and the needy, and that urges us to help them, and to be attentive to the need of the world for peace and to actually work for peace;
– that makes us aware and conscious that life in all stages is sacred and needs to be upheld and respected;
– and many others.
There is a saying, “words are dwarves, examples are giants”. Without trials, love is no more than empty sentiment. Without actions love remains a great deception. Without proofs, love is dead. A writer once said: “love doesn’t exist, what exist are proofs of love”. Certainly, “by their fruits you will know them (Mt 7:20).”
This is how Jesus lived his life, a life of love. He gave us the gift, the recommendation and the promise, so that we also can live His life and remain in His love. Let the Eucharist that we celebrate strengthen us in our journey to the Father, in our relationship with our brothers and sisters, and in our growth in spiritual life. So, without any fear, we have the courage to proclaim: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.