(From the Bulletin of Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic Church, May 21, 2017)
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Although Pentecost is still two weeks away, this Sunday could well be called "Introducing the Holy Spirit Sunday" since the Gospel is all about Jesus' promise to send another "paraclete" (one who pleads our cause) when He returns to heaven. The first reading tells of the marvelous workings of this Holy Spirit in Samaria when Philip, "filled with the Spirit," goes there to evangelize.
The Gospel is part of Jesus' Farewell Address to his apostles at the Last Supper. There, he prepares them for his death, resurrection and ascension. He tells them they should be happy that He is leaving them and God the Father will send them an Advocate or Counselor. As Jesus Himself was the first "Paraclete," so God the Father will now send the Spirit of Truth who will complete their education, reminding them of all that He said while on earth and giving them full understanding and skill to preach the Word with great power and wisdom. This Holy Spirit will make it possible for Jesus along with God the Father to come into their hearts and dwell there. In this way, Jesus will be present to them always. Further, this Holy Spirit will fill them with courage to witness to the Truth. He will console them with great joy, and help them to live always in hope of their own resurrection.
The First Reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, tells a story that shows how the apostles, following Pentecost, were able to perform miracles and healings very similar to the ones Jesus Himself worked while yet with them. These signs gave such strong credibility to their preaching that crowds of people immediately believed in Jesus, and were baptized. The story itself tells us that Philip, filled with the Spirit, goes to Samaria and there converts these traditional enemies into enthusiastic believers.
When the apostles heard this astounding news, they immediately sent Peter and John to lay hands on them so they could receive the Holy Spirit.
The Second Reading today, from a letter attributed to St. Peter gives the early Christians a rule of conduct as they set out on their mission of truth and service. "Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence." They should have no fear of their enemies, but be prepared to pay the price of disci- pleship. If they unite their sufferings to those that Jesus endured, then their personal reward in heaven is assured.
Fr. Louis Kemayou, Pastor