6th Sunday of Easter
May 25, 2014 – Year A
Readings: Acts 8:5-8, Psalm 66, 1 PT 3:15-18, Jn 14:15-21
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
[FIRST COMMUNION MASS – directed toward the children – but all are welcome to listen!]
In a town, there was a gifted painter who was often hired to paint murals. On one occasion, he was brought in by a church to decorate the back of their altar. When his work was complete, the pastor and the building committee came in to see his masterpiece. To everyone’s surprise, there was a large green and yellow bird with a curved beak at the very top of the painting. The pastor looked at the painter and said, “That doesn’t look anything like a dove.” The painter shouted, “Dove!? You said you wanted a parakeet!” The pastor replied, “I didn’t say parakeet, I said paraclete. You know, the Holy Spirit.”
In today’s readings, we heard all about the Holy Spirit and how He is with us and helps us, especially in times of trouble. The first reading told us how hard it was for the first Christians in Jerusalem. So Deacon Philip traveled to Samaria. There, he found people who wanted to learn about Jesus. They accepted the Gospel, their lives were changed, and they were filled with great joy. When the Apostles, Peter and John arrived and laid hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit. When you were born, your parents brought you to the Church to receive the Holy Spirit in a sacrament. Do you know what that sacrament was? (Baptism)
In the second reading, St. Peter wrote to people who were suffering because they believed in Jesus. He reminded them that Christ suffered to save them and was raised to life in the Spirit. His message is also for us. Many people today don’t believe exactly as we do, and some don’t even believe in God. As you grow up, there might be times when people ask you, “Why do you go to church? Why do you believe in Jesus?” St. Peter tells us to always be ready to explain. You have your parents, your teachers, your priest and your deacons to help you with this.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus was preparing his disciples for his coming death, resurrection and ascension. He promised that they would receive the Holy Spirit, who would remain with them always. The Holy Spirit gave the disciples understanding, and he gives it to us, too. If we keep Jesus’ commandments to love God and love our neighbor, Jesus will reveal himself to us.
We have many names for the Holy Spirit: the Paraclete, the Advocate, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. We have many symbols too: a Dove, Fire, Water, Wind, Breath of God. We have all these symbols because the third person of the Holy Trinity is the hardest to understand. We can understand a Father and a Son because we see fathers and sons all around us but we can’t see a spirit. Some of us, like Deacon Ray and our Holy Spirit Prayer Group, are blessed with a deep connection with and understanding of the Holy Spirit. However, even they have a hard time putting it into words that are easy to understand. So, if all of us have received the Holy Spirit and He is with us… why is He so hard to understand?
I think it might have to do with the word spirit. You see, spirit is an English word which comes from a Hebrew word: ruah. Can you say that? Ruah! Ruah means breath, or air, or wind. We can’t see any of these things but we know they exist by their effect. Someone once described the Holy Spirit to me as the love between God the Father and God the Son. We can’t see love, either. We only know that someone loves us by the way they treat us. How do you know someone loves you? (get responses) In the same way, we can only “see” the Holy Spirit by looking for His actions in us and in our world.
Here at Holy Name of Mary, the Holy Spirit has been working overtime. He is active in the Sacraments. During the past week, we have celebrated the Sacrament of Marriage three times and Reconciliation twice. In a couple of weeks, some of our young people will be Confirmed. Today, we will have three Baptisms and at this Mass, (ask kids what will happen). All of you will receive the Eucharist for the first time. We see these Sacraments and we see their effect in the lives of people who receive them.
The Greek word “Paraclete” means “someone who is called to a person’s side.” Our God is so big that He exists as three persons. So, I want you to always remember that God our Father is watching over you in Heaven. God the Son, your brother, is with you and in you and God the Holy Spirit is with you to be your guide.