HOMILY FOR THE SIXTH (6TH) SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A (2)
HOMILY THEME: MAKING A PROMISE
By: Fr. Gerald Musa
Stories abound about broken, failed, empty, and shattered promises. At the root of many crises in the world today are broken promises. We live in situations where politicians fail to keep their campaign promises; where business people renege on their contract promises. We live in circumstances where temporal and religious leaders fall short of keeping their promises. On many occasions we witness family and friendly relationships crumble because of broken promises.
Very often we also make promises that are not easy to fulfill and so end up either ignoring these promises or fulfilling them partially. The Psychologist Carl Jung says, “The man who promises everything is sure to fulfill nothing, and everyone who promises too much is in danger of using evil means in order to carry out his promises, and is already on the road to perdition.”
Divine promises are unlike human promises. The covenant between Yahweh and Israel in the Old Testament is a vivid example. Yahweh was faithful to his promises and the Israelites broke their promises so many times. Yahweh promised to deliver them from the land of captivity to the Promised Land and that he did. He promised to send a saviour to the people and he perfectly fulfilled this promise in the coming of Jesus. God never made a promise that was too good to be true, says Dwight Moody.
Towards the end of his mission on earth, Jesus began to prepare the minds of his disciples about his departure. It is not easy to say good bye to loved ones. Farewell speeches are characterised by hopes and promises. Such hopes are expressed in phrases such as‘We meet to part and we part to meet again.’ The promise contained in some farewell speeches is the assurance that‘out of sight is not out of mind.’ Jesus was with his disciples for three years and when he was to depart from the world, the disciples were gripped by anxiety. He offered words of comfort and assured them he will not leave them as orphans but will send the ‘Spirit of truth’ to to teach them, remind them, lead them to the truth and to empower them.
SPIRIT OF TRUTH
This spirit that Jesus promises is the third person of the Holy Trinity. It is the spirit, which is professed in the Credo: “the giver of life who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who has spoken through the prophets.” This spirit of truth is also known by sundry names: Comforter, Counselor, Advocate and Helper. The Spirit is a counsellor that advises, an advocate that defends in moments of trials, a helper that guides teachers and leaders, as well as a consoler that comforts those in are in grief.
PREPARATION FOR THE SPIRIT After the departure of Jesus the Apostles went to the upper room (cenacle) praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which their master promised. Christians commemorate the period of anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit through 49 days (seven weeks) of Eastertide. The Eastertide is the Easter season leading to the celebration of Pentecost. It is within this period that dioceses and parishes organize novenas, revivals, and conferences in preparation for the celebration of Pentecost.
The Acts of the Apostles provides us with a glimpse of the fulfillment of the promise and work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the early Christians. For example, the people of Samaria witness the signs of the presence of the Spirit when Philip laid his hands and healed those who were possessed and delivered those who were demonised (cf. Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8). The promise of Jesus offers a new vista of hope to all his disciples. An anonymous author says, “Without hope life is meaningless and less.” This explains why Peter admonishes the early Christians to be ready at all times to give an explanation to anyone who asks them for a reason for the hope that they have (1 Peter 3:15). We are also called to live in hope and to believe that divine promises. The believer hopes and believes in an everyday Pentecost in which “The Holy Spirit gives wisdom against folly, understanding against dullness, counsel against rashness, fortitude against fears, knowledge against ignorance, piety against hardness of our heart, and fear against pride.” (St. Gregory). May we appreciate the gift of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promises. May the Holy Spirit rekindle in our hearts the fire of love. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit which he sent on Pentecost Day. May we also learn from to fulfil our promises to God and to our neighbours, family and friends.
6th Sunday of Easter, Year A, John 14:15-21