Sunday, May 21, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A). Mass Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
The Church’s readings focus on ancient truths.
The same two points are repeated in the Gospel and first and second readings, but they are repeated twice outside the readings, in the Gospel Acclamation and Communion Antiphon.
One: If you love God, keep the commandments. Two: If you do this, God will come and abide with you.
Let’s start with the second. Many people have expressed the same sentiment:
We have a God-shaped hole inside us that we often try to fill with the wrong things.
We try to fill it with material things that may leave us in soul-crushing debt. We try to fill it with human love, which can leave us feeling hurt. We try to fill it with life accomplishments, which can leave us stressed and disappointed.
Jesus promises to fill that hole with God. “I will not leave you orphans,” he says. “I will come to you. … On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me and I in you.”
That’s strong language: We are orphans without God, people with something huge missing from our lives. Ultimately, heaven is the place where we will be united fully with our true Father.
But in the meanwhile, the Holy Spirit will come and fill our lives.
But that brings us to the first point: God does not just come to us as a nice feeling or as a psychological balm.
He comes as the Spirit of truth and the Lord of all.
He doesn’t want our praise and gratitude. He wants our actions to conform to his requests. He wants our lives to reflect him.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” Jesus says.
“At all times it is works and actions that we need, not a mere show of words,” St. John Chrysostom explained.
Both of today’s lessons are reinforced throughout the readings. In the first reading, Peter discovers a group of believers who have not received the Holy Spirit, and he immediately remedies this enormous lack — this God-shaped hole.
Then, in the letter of St. Peter, we are told, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”
But the ultimate argument, he says, is our lives.
“Keep your conscience clear, so that … those who defame you … may themselves be put to shame.”
Everyone seeks fulfillment. Everyone seeks understanding. Everyone feels the need for infinite, unconditional love.
Today we learn that there is only one way to find it: by doing the will of God.
Tom Hoopes is writer in
residence at Benedictine College
in Atchison, Kansas.
He is the author of What