Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
First Reading: In this first reading, we find Philip in Samaria where he has fled because of the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. Although Philip was one of the seven appointed to minister at the table and tend to the poor, we now see him in a prophetic role, carrying forward the healing and teaching ministry of Jesus.
Psalm 66: The verses of today’s Psalm alternate between proclamation and prayer of direct address. As a prayer of thanksgiving, the people compare God’s saving action for them to the Exodus. Praying this psalm reminds us that in every age we can perceive the works of God and respond gratefully to the Spirit’s activity among us.
Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Peter continues to encourage his fellow Christians to live their vocation faithfully. First that implies a heartfelt dedication to Christ the Lord and secondly, to suffering just as he did.
Gospel: Today’s Gospel continues our reading from Jesus’ discourse at his Last Supper with the disciples. Although Jesus is giving his farewell, he promises not to abandon his disciples. He will ask the Father for another advocate. Jesus as Jesus comes as an advocate from the Father and does what the Father bids him, the Father will send his disciples the Spirit of truth.
Reflection: So much of our life seems anything but connected to Jesus and expressive of our love for him. Our sheer busyness hardly leaves us with a moment to catch our breath, let alone be concerned about loving Jesus!
Today’s Gospel passage comes immediately following last Sunday’s Gospel, the words of Jesus to Thomas, Philip, and the others. The disciples do not understand how they can follow Jesus, how they can go where he is going. And Jesus responds with the promise of the Advocate who will come to lead them more deeply into the mysterious relationship of Father and Son. Only in John is the Holy Spirit called an “Advocate.” The term comes from a legal setting and means a defense attorney, one who defends and consoles another. This Advocate, “the Spirit of truth,” like Jesus, will be accepted by the disciples but rejected by the world. The Spirit will remain with the disciples and will even dwell within them. Through the Holy Spirit, they will see Jesus again, for he promises to reveal himself to them. The binding force of this relationship is love – and the sign of love is action, the keeping of the commandments.
Loving Jesus doesn’t require that we pray all the time or that we are consciously aware of Jesus’ presence. Loving Jesus is a simple matter of keeping his commandments – being gentle and reverent toward others, having a clear conscience, and doing good. Most of us are already doing what we need to do to be good Christians; but we also need to recognize that these good actions are the way we keep his commandments. In other words, his commandments are pretty simple to know: love as he loved, be self-giving as he was, receive others as he did, do the Father’s will as he did. Most of all, keeping his commandments means opening ourselves to the Spirit who dwells within us and makes us like him.
Question for reflection: How do I live Jesus’ commandments in my discipleship?
Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.