Theme: THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
- Acts 6:1-7
- John 14:1-12
Today is the 5th Sunday of Easter! Notice I did not say 5th Sunday after Easter! This is because we are still celebrating Easter! We celebrate Easter for 50 days, that is, from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday! We are now 4 weeks away from Easter Sunday and 3 weeks away from Pentecost Sunday! That is why the readings today tell us about the Holy Spirit!
The gospel today is from the Last Supper Discourse of Jesus Christ in which Jesus Christ prepares his disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit! Next Sunday’s gospel is also from John 14 and is even more explicit on the coming of the Holy Spirit!
To understand today’s gospel we must first look at John 13, the chapter which precedes John 14! In John 13, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples, predicts the betrayal of Judas, predicts his own departure, and predicts Peter’s denial of him!
The disciples are disturbed by these predictions! That is why in today’s gospel, John 14, Jesus tells his disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me. Yes, I am departing, but not to disappear, but to go to heaven to prepare a place for you, so that where I am you may be there too’!
Then Jesus continues, ‘you know the way to where I am going’. And Thomas responds, ‘Lord, how do we know the way, when we do not know where you are going’. And Jesus replies, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me’! In other words, Jesus is the only way that leads to the Father, the only truth that leads to the Father, and the only life that leads to the Father! No one can go to the Father except through him!
In the same way, Jesus Christ is also the only way through whom the Father comes to us, the only truth through whom the Father reveals his love, mercy, and forgiveness to us, and the only life through whom the Father gives his life to us! And just as no one can go to the Father except through Jesus Christ, the Father comes to us through no one, except through Jesus Christ!
Then Jesus continues ‘if you know me you will know the Father! In fact you know the Father and you see the Father’. Then Philip says, ‘Lord, let us see the Father then we will be satisfied’. And Jesus replies, ‘Philip, have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me, to have seen me is to have seen the Father. Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me and that all that I say and do, I do not do it on my own, but it is the Father who does it in me’?
And most importantly, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘if you believe in me, you will do the works that I do and you will even do greater works than me, because I am going to the Father to send you the Holy Spirit’! (NJB)
The Holy Spirit will be in the disciples of Jesus Christ in all times and places to continue to do the works of Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus will not be limited by time and place! The Holy Spirit in the disciples of Jesus Christ will be in all places at all times!
That is why in the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke emphasizes the point that Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit!
The first reading tells us that Stephen and Philip were elected among the 7 “deacons” to distribute food so that the 12 Apostles may devote their time on preaching the word, but nowhere else in the Acts of the Apostles do we hear of the 7 “deacons” distributing food, instead chapter 7 which follows chapter 6 of today’s first reading tells us that Stephen preached the Good News until they stoned him to death! And in chapter 8 of the Acts of the Apostles we hear of Philip preaching and baptizing!
Just as the 12 Apostles represent the 12 tribes of Israel, the 7 “deacons” represent the 7 “nations” of Canaan! In other words, Luke in the Acts of the Apostles tells us that the word of God is spreading from the Hebrew speaking Jews to the Greek speaking Jews!
And in fact Luke ends the first reading today by telling us that the word of the Lord continued to spread, and the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests were also converted to the faith!
We have proclaimed the Good News in the power of the Holy Spirit; we will now celebrate the Eucharist in the power of the Holy Spirit! In the Eucharist we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his Risen Body, and our Risen Lord will give us his Holy Spirit and will send us forth after Mass (Mission) into the world to proclaim the Good News and to Baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.