6th Sunday of Easter- C
Introduction to Mass: One of the great social and ethical problems of our time is isolation and loneliness. Today approximately 25% of all adults live alone. Spouses, parents and children often live as virtual strangers to one another. This is unfortunate because we never need to be alone. Today Jesus promises His abiding presence with us in the Holy Spirit. It is the abiding presence of God within us that enables us to face the future with undying hope and true Christian courage. We are not alone: Lets therefore celebrate this Eucharist and embrace His living presence with us!
We human beings are God’s fascinating creatures, because God created us in His own image and likeness. Therefore, when I look at this congregation, I can see fascinating and smart people. All of you have accomplished amazing things in your life. Please take a moment and think about the some of the best of your accomplishments. Now put aside your smartness! Let’s think about another question! Whether you are smart or not, how long can we survive without the basics? Every person and situation is different, though the “rule of threes” gets at the desperate nature of what our bodies need: three weeks without food, three days without water, three minutes without oxygen; yes, just three minutes without breath. One of the reasons why people get cancer is that they don’s breath well. They don’t intake enough oxygen. That is the reason, at the clinic; they always check your oxygen level. One of the tips they give for healthy living is to breathe well, or teaching you breathing exercise.
That is what Jesus is teaching his disciples today. Breathing exercise for healthy Christian living; living a Christian life in its fullest! The background of the gospel story is that, after three years of formation with his disciples, it’s time for Jesus to say goodbye. But before his departure, he wanted to give them the secret, the tip for their survival in the world, and the very essential for their spiritual growth. Today, Jesus promises his disciples of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit after His departure. The promise of the Holy Spirit should not have been a mystery to the followers of Jesus who knew the Holy Scriptures. The origin of this promise can be traced to the Old Testament books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Paul tells us that this promise has been fulfilled: “Do you not know that you are God’s Temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” [1 Cor. 3:16].
The Jewish concept of Spirit: In Hebrew the word for spirit is ruach () – in Greek, pneuma ( ); in Latin, spiritus – all of which suggest breathing. The idea is that when a person is breathing, he is alive. It is from this notion that the idea of an animating, life-giving, intelligent and active force comes. The word (in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin), thus meant “breath”, “life” and “spirit.” The Jewish tradition taught that when the Messiah came, God’s very own Life (Breath, Spirit) would be poured out upon all the faithful believers. The Story of Creation in Genesis says. “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters”. When God’s breath came over the waters, everything came into existence.
Jesus said “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. The role of the Holy Spirit is twofold: a) to “teach” the disciples and b) to “remind” them of what Jesus has already taught them. Now Jesus was with these disciples for the last 3 years. He taught them everything they needed to know. He showed them in action and good examples what it means to be a follower of Jesus, a disciple. But did any of them understand? Practically, you will feel like Jesus wasted his life by training and educating them. But the whole thing turned around and everything became very clear to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. What a difference it can make when you have a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit! Some people call that encounter, baptism in the Holy Spirit!
What is baptism in the Holy Spirit? Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an encounter with the Holy Spirit where you are totally born again into a new creation in Christ Jesus. You feel like the old man is dead and new person is born in you. From that time on, your priorities in life will change and you will have a new perspective about everything. It’s like St. Augustine before and after his conversion; St. Paul before and after his conversion, St. Francis before and after his conversion. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was predicted by John the Baptist (Mark 1:8) and by Jesus before He ascended to heaven: “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4); for the first time, people were permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and the church had begun.
In two weeks we will be celebrating, the feast of the Pentecost. Let’s therefore prepare ourselves in a meaningful way to have that encounter with the Holy Spirit. Once you have an encounter with the Holy Spirit, prayer is no longer going to be boring. Nobody needs to tell you anything. You will have the fire within yourself and you will do anything to set the world on Fire. You will be able to do amaizing things for the Lord and the Church like St. Mother Teresa. An example, there are three ways go can travel to New York- you can walk, drive or fly. Without the Holy Spirit, you will be walking- everything stressful, slow and boring- with the Holy Spirit, you are flying- everything easy, beautiful and meaningful. You will have the right priorities in life- heaven become your number one priority, and relationship with Jesus becomes more important than any other relationship.
To have the baptism in the Holy Spirit, lets’ do the following
- After making a good confessing, start a novena before Pentecost thrusting for the Holy Spirit.
- Start reading the Acts of the Apostle
- Learn more about the Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.