Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
WE CAN KNOW people in different ways. There is the superficial knowledge of acquaintances. Such knowledge might add interest to our lives, but it rarely changes them. Another kind of knowledge transforms us. As we come to know the other person, we are drawn into the depths of their being. The more we enter such knowledge, the more we entrust ourselves to the knowledge of the other.
Christ promised his disciples that the Spirit his first gift to those who believe, would enable them to know God in this way. The more we entrust ourselves to Christ's love, to the following of his commandments, the more our knowledge becomes a shared communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In today's Gospel, Jesus promises such knowledge to his disciples through his Resurrection. A fearful world cannot surrender to God, and must know him only from a distance. The Spirit touches our hearts, enabling us to know God from the depths of our being. This is the reassurance Jesus gave to his Church and his disciples: "...you know him, because he is with you, he is in you. On that day you will understand that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you."
In the days following the Resurrection, such knowledge sustained the Church. The world the disciples engaged was very different from the world they had shared with their Lord a hostile world described by Jesus as neither knowing nor seeing God. The faith that Jesus had engendered seemed alien in such a world. The disciples would have been less than human had they not felt abandoned and powerless in a world so different from their own. To such anxieties Jesus spoke: "I will not leave you orphans."
If our faith looks only at the world and its seemingly insuperable problems, we also will be overwhelmed. We cannot understand, still less resolve, the pain and darkness of a sinful world When the Spirit leads us inwards, we will know that we are not abandoned and alone. We live in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the midst of such a world, Christ will show himself to us.
The Acts of the Apostles describes the growth of the early Church, minoring our own growth as we share Christ's Resurrection. Word of Jesus spread far and wide. The Gospel that promised salvation and a better world was received with joy. The disciples prayed that those who had greeted the Gospel with such enthusiasm might receive the Holy Spirit We can bring the words of the Gospel to a divided and broken world. Only the work of the Spirit, in ourselves and those who suffer, can heal the world. Christ prayed that the Father might send the Holy Spirit. The Apostles prayed for the same gift. For our own time and our own world, let us turn to the Father who gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask (cf Luke 11:13).