Sixth Sunday of Easter 2023
A priest is walking through the jungle when he comes upon an
obviously hungry lion. The lion is preparing his attack, the
priest crosses himself, folds his hands in prayer, and says,
“Lord, if you can hear me, please infuse the Holy Spirit in the
heart of this beast.” The lion comes to a screeching halt as a
bright light begins to glow around him. He looks to the sky, folds
his paws in prayer, and says, “Thank you, Lord, for this meal.”
We continue reading John’s gospel, chapter 14: the Last Supper.
Further consolation of distraught disciples, ambitious consolation.
To console us, Jesus never simply gives a hug or an aspirin
or an inspirational catch phrase.
He gives someOne: the Advocate, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit,
thanks to Whom light glows around us
and we are able give great thanks for good meals.
And Jesus promises that this Holy Spirit will be with them, with us,
Forever means the truest giving, true gift.
How does this sound to you?
Consoling? Abstract? Too intangible for the very tangible distress of
Perhaps. We dare trust, nonetheless, that Jesus is speaking to us.
And that, as He tells us, we have a real part to play in this gift
which evacuates abstraction.
Jesus respects us too much to leave us passive in the spiritual life.
This promised gift of the Holy Spirit,
although unmerited and completely gratuitous,
is especially given as we freely move our hearts.
Hence, Jesus’ words: “If you love me, you will keep my
In keeping Jesus’ commandments, we freely move our hearts in love.
Not abstract…but seemingly impossible!
What are these commandments, by the way?
Where does the rubber hit the road for us?
Both before and after this passage in 13:34-35 in 15:12,
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one
One can suggest that Jesus’ commandments
are contained in this new commandment.
And, again, although God is the One who makes all of this possible,
what is the aforementioned real part that we play?
“Keeping Jesus’ commandments”, on our side of the equation,
requires intention and willingness to and efforts at loving one another.
Which open us to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Not abstract and not impossible.
We can all intend and be willing and try.
We are invited to choose, beyond emotion,
to love with the help, with the love of the Holy Spirit.
Saint Catherine of Siena, the 14 th -century Italian mystic, exhorts us:
Enrich your soul in the great goodness of God:
the Father is your table,
the Son is your food,
and the Holy Spirit waits on you and then makes His
dwelling in you.
Each day, with the love of the Holy Spirit, will have meaning
—regardless of our circumstances, I promise!
This love of neighbor (my loved ones who are getting on my last
nerve, the odd person on the sidewalk, in the check-out line or the
lane next to me, the reclusive neighbor down the street, my long-lost
aunt, my estranged child, my unpleasant co-worker, clergy who
disappoint me, whomever) is possible.
We choose to love, knowing, as says the Carmelite nun (d. 1897),
St. Therese of Lisieux, that Our Lord does not look so much
at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty,
but at the love with which we do them.
Today is a new day. Today is God’s day.
As Saint Augustine (d. 430) suggests, let us entrust the past to
the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.
I close with words from Mother Teresa (d. 1997), Albanian,
whose birth name, by the way was Anjezë, Agnes
—as a nun, she took the name Teresa in honor of St. Therese of
Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.
Let us indeed begin.