Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year C Filled with joy and the Holy Spirit

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Homily: Fourth Sunday of Easter Year C

Reading 1: “They were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.” Why? They just got themselves thrown out of town. They have experienced persecution and rejection. They experienced violent abuse. How can they still be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit? What was the source—besides the Holy Spirit—of this joy? The message they preached, they believed and lived. But more, the person of Jesus Christ.

They were convicted of the Father’s love for them and the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit.  They were committed disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were doing what God told them to do. Their focus was not the persecutions or rejections, but on doing the will of God who chose them and sent them.

Are we filled with joy and the Holy Spirit right now? During this past week? Is it possible that our focus has not been on our relationship with God, on doing the will of God consciously? Is it possible that we allowed ourselves to be so caught up with just getting through the day but forgot about the real purpose of our existence?

God was the center of their lives. Like Jesus, his will was their food. Does God want us to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit? What needs to change and be done?

Reading 2: Who are these before the throne of God? Men and women from every place, time and culture, who in their life-time were filled with an inner joy and peace and the Holy Spirit. They survived the great period of trials and persecutions for their faith was in Jesus Christ. They kept their eyes on the Lord and his promises. They made choices that would bring them in right order with the will of God for them. They entrusted themselves to the Lord and longed for the joy of being in the Lord’s presence forever.

Were they any different from you or me? They were born, lived and died. They struggled, suffered, sinned. But the reason they are now at peace is that they came to the truth that set them free, the light that dispel the darkness, the path that leads to eternal life. They experienced Jesus and his saving message. They believed and embraced him and it. Everything from that point was measured against this relationship and reality.

Gospel: Do we want to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit? Then follow the Lord Jesus, our Shepherd. Listen and be attentive to his voice in the silence of our hearts. Make him the reason why we do or not do something.

We have been given to Jesus by the Father. Nothing can snatch us from his hand. But I can choose not to follow him, listen to him. I can choose to leave him and focus on something else. But if I remain with and in him, then he promises eternal life with him.

This was the same message Paul and Barnabas preached, the same message those who washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb heard and acted on. It is the same message we hear. Do we want to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit? The plan is clear. All we have to do is act on it. True, it is not easy. But we have the lives and witness of the countless number of people who are celebrating with God in eternity. They are interceding for us before the throne of God.

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