YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
TOPIC: PEACE AND UNITY IN GOD WHO DWELLS IN US
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Jn 14:23-29 (God’s Indwelling)
Message # 328: “Ark of the New Covenant”
- The Marian Message
a) If we follow Mary, she will help us follow her Son, Jesus. Ad Jesum per Mariam (To Jesus through Mary.) She invites us to enter her Immaculate Heart, the Ark of the New Covenant. Remember, this is one of the titles of Mary that we mention in the Litany.
b) Just as the Ark of Noah saved the people from the great flood, so also during these times, the chastisement is already at the door (letter b), worse than the flood. Mary is the new Ark of salvation (letters e and f). She is our sure refuge during these times.
c) At the same time, Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant (the Israelites carried the ark from the desert to the Promised Land) because she carried in her womb Jesus, the living sign of the new covenant between God and man.
d) Mary’s invitation is urgent. Time is running out. We must listen to her teachings and admonitions. (Attention: letters b, f, g, h). The best gift we can offer her is our prompt response to her appeals for prayers, repentance and conversion. Let us strive our best to follow her and become good disciples of Jesus also.
- The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us a glimpse of the first major problem of the early Church. It was about the issue on circumcision – whether there is a need to circumcise the pagan converts to Christianity according to the Mosaic Law. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the issue was resolved successfully and the unity of the Church was preserved. This is one of the first examples of how the Spirit of God dwells in the believing community.
b) The Responsorial Psalm expresses the catholicity (universality) of the Church: “O God, let all the nations praise you.” In fact, it is the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News to all nations and bring them together under the one banner of Christ.
c) The second reading is still from St. John’s vision about heaven, the holy city. He observed that the holy city has no more temple, “for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.” Again, this is an illustration of the universality and unity of the Church. All peoples of the world will eventually worship God in spirit and in truth. In this case, religions and temples take secondary place; what truly matters is God who will be worshipped by all peoples of the world in all ages.
d) The Gospel account this Sunday is still part of the long and profound Last Supper discourse of Jesus. In this section, he speaks about the unity of all his followers. This unity is achievable if the following elements are present: God who dwells among us; this happens only if we truly love Jesus and keep his commandments; and this is possible only through the Holy Spirit. When all these elements are present, there is true unity in the Church and throughout the entire world, and there will be peace.
- Points for Reflection
a) God is the only principle of unity. This is because God is love. Love always unites. God always desires the unity of His children. When people follow God and His command of love, He dwells in them and there will always be unity among them. Divisions and disunity among people are caused by the absence of God and the presence of the evil one. Anyone who sows disunity and promotes dissension is being used by the devil to destroy families and communities.
b) Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross because he was accused of sedition and of fomenting disunity among the Jewish people. At the Presentation in the Temple, Simeon prophesied that Jesus would be a contradiction to many, so that the hearts of men would be revealed. He even said he has come, not to bring peace and unity but division. In other words, not everybody who brings disunity is used by the devil. If the unity and peace among people are superficial since they are based on fear, error and false security, the Word of God will be perceived as a divisive factor, and the herald of the Gospel will be considered as the instigator and sower of hatred and disunity. That is why the prophetic role is quite demanding and risky. Many Christians choose to keep quiet and remain distant because of this risk. This is the cause of the continued spread of evil in the world because good people choose to keep quiet. As the saying goes, “For evil to triumph, what is only needed is for good men to do nothing.”
c) The parting gift of Jesus to his disciples is peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” And what does he mean by peace? Not according to what we usually think: “Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” Christ’s peace is lasting. It is interior peace of heart, which overflows into peace in families, in communities, in entire nations. It is the peace that comes from knowing without any doubt whatsoever, a) that we are loved by him; b) that whenever we offend him, he will always be ready to forgive us; c) that we have a purpose in life, a mission – the very mission that Christ himself has given us: to spread his Kingdom. As today’s Psalm puts it, to “make his way known upon earth; among all nations, his salvation.” Only because Christ has given us this peace, by giving us faith in his love, mercy, and mission, he can command us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” If our peace is based on anything else: popularity, wealth, comfort, or power, it would be unstable, because all those things are vulnerable to change. But Christ’s peace isn’t vulnerable to change, because it’s based on his love, mercy, and mission, and those are everlasting.
d) “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” God desires to dwell in us. That is precisely the main reason for the Incarnation – the Son of God became man so that he will be with us. He even promised to stay with us until the end of time. St. Paul revealed that we are the temples of the Holy Spirit, and we need not be afraid whatsoever, for if God is with us, who can be against us? In Baptism and Confirmation, we have received the Holy Spirit – God’s indwelling in us. In Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Sadly, though, many of us are not seriously aware of God’s dwelling in us. We do not respect our own bodies; we do not respect each other; we live as if God is totally separate from our lives. Thereby we hurt and insult God who lives in each of us.
Recite this excerpt from the famous St. Patrick’s
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me, God’s host to save me
From snares of devils, from temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in multitude.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the three-ness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.