Homily Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A The gift of love

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Homily Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A

Reading 1: During these days between Easter and Pentecost we have been focusing first on the encounter with the Risen Lord by the Apostles and the continual reminder of the person and role of the Holy Spirit. Without the encounter with the Risen Lord we are not prepared for nor can we expect the gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ is incomplete.

In the first reading Philip, the deacon, proclaims the person of Jesus and his saving deeds to the people of Samaria. This is the first major evangelization effort outside of Jerusalem since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Many people were baptized, but they had not yet been confirmed.

Hearing of Philip’s successful ministry, Peter and John came to Samaria. They laid hands on those who were baptized and these received a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through this manifestation, it became clear that Philip, a deacon, could baptize, but the apostles, the firs bishops, were empowered to confirm.

We have been baptized and confirmed, but we are constantly in need of a further infilling of the Holy Spirit. So we should pray each day, “Come, Holy Spirit, come!”  Pray that the Spirit stirs within us the gifts we need today to do the work God has for us. Like Philip, we need to exercise consciously and intentionally the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Gospel: What is the greatest gift of the Holy Spirit? Love. This love is a reflection of the mutual love between the Father and the Son and the love of the Trinity for us. That love has been manifested to us in the creation of the world and in our particular gift of life. That love was shown us in baptism, when we became children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit. We experience that love in each of the Sacraments. It is through this love that we can begin to glimpse the life of the Trinity in us.
But love needs to be responded to. The only response to love is love itself if it is to be fruitful in us. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that by keeping his commandments, by living according to his word, we will best express our love gift of response. But this love is the gift of the Holy Spirit, not natural love that we show to one another on the human level. The more we choose to do all things in love for love with love, the more our life will have meaning and be effective. It is in and through this love that we will reach our full potential as a son or daughter of Father, a disciple of Jesus the Lord, a devotee of the Spirit.

Reading 2: One of the ways we are to regularly exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit is to put Peter’s words into action. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” This is what Philip was doing in Samaria. He proclaimed Christ to them.  This is what Peter and John were expressing when they laid hands on the baptized. The gift they received, they gave as a gift to others in love.

If the love of Christ is in our hearts because we continue to encounter him in prayer, in scriptures, in the Eucharist and in one another, then we have truly a grace-filled witness of God’s love to give to others. Even if our witness is to focus on the suffering for the sake of his name by doing what is right and just. Our hope in Christ and in his promises.

As love did not prevent Christ from suffering, so love will not prevent us from enduring suffering as well. It is because of love for the Father and for us that Jesus embraced the mystery of the cross. It is because of our love for God that we are enabled to endure the sufferings of life. For we know that this life will pass away, but our life of love in Christ will live forever.

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