6 Easter A’14 [Acts 8:5-8, 14-17• 1 Peter 3:15-18 • John 14:15-21]
Weekly Scripture Readings: Sixth Sunday of Easter
In my homily last week I tried to explain why the language of the Fourth Gospel is so confusing. This gospel was written about seventy years after the crucifixion and relied on the oral traditions passed down over seven decades. Those traditions were rooted in the conviction of his earliest followers that they had experienced something unique, strange, and extraordinary. Their experience that Christ is risen! (Truly he is risen!) was the lens through which those early communities remembered Jesus of Nazareth.
At the heart of the tradition John received was the conviction that Jesus was a Jewish mystic. He was a “spirit person,” the first among us in the human family in whom a new consciousness of God had emerged. This explains why the language of the Fourth Gospel is so confusing.
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate, the Spirit of truth. I will not leave you orphaned.” It is impossible to know what those claims meant to his companions. Even for us, the meaning of those claims remain a mystery.
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate, the Spirit of truth.” Life is an
expression of the divine energy permeating the cosmos. The Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins gifted us with that extraordinarily profound line, “the world is charged with the grandeur of God.” The Spirit is the unlimited source of life. A new consciousness of God is emerging in us as well.
“In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me.” We know the promise of the Risen One to be present with us and for us always is not about physical presence. It is not about some form of Skype presence. Christ inhabits a new form of existence.
Christ is risen! (Truly he is risen!) The Risen One was the first among us to awaken to the brilliance and beauty of the divine presence radiating throughout the cosmos. While not all use the words we use, those who love, care for human needs, treat others gently with respect or resist unjust powers have experienced the Risen One as alive and life-giving.
Yet it is indisputable that for most folks, Jesus passed through this world as if nothing had taken place. We boast of our achievements, and they are many, like the Internet and the World Wide Web. Yet so much in our hi-tech culture indicates we either have lost or not yet found our human center. Our militarized culture seems addicted to violence as if the Risen One still remains in the tomb.
“I will raise you up on Eagle’s wings….,” When singing that song we affirm our faith that Christ is risen! (Truly he is risen!) and our hope that God will raise us up beyond death. We are created for wholeness, for love. We are part of who God is and God is part of who we are. In the Risen One we were freed to embrace human life, heal the sick, instruct the ignorant and love.
Christ is risen! (Truly he is risen!) The promise Jesus made two thousand years ago is still being kept. The Advocate, the Spirit of Truth is with us.
“If you love me.” The only pre-requisite for receiving “the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth” is to love the Risen One in those with whom we share life. By such love we become one with him and with the Father.
The early faith communities understood this. They understood that the world will know there is something special about us when we love one another, including those perceived as our enemies. It is not religious acts that make us special. It is being truly and fully human!
Christ is risen! (Truly he is risen!) And “I will raise you up on Eagle’s wings….,”