Weekly Homily from Fr Jim Hogan, Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2016

I had recently begun adding the a ability to print a PDF of the homily.  The otherd day,  I noticed that at the bottom of the page here there is a button that says “Print” that allows you to easily print the homily.  I am someone who does not like redundant to work so I will no longer provide the ability to print the PDF.  I do not think this should inconvenience anyone…..reyanna

•Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 • Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 • John 14:23-29•

Weekly Scripture Readings: Sixth Sunday of Easter

Christ is risen!  Truly he is risen!!  Happy Easter!  As we gather on this first day of May I realize many things may be distracting you: terrorist attacks, spring sports, graduations, plans for your summer vacation.  All of this makes it difficult to remain focused on our Easter celebration, especially when the gospel texts are a bit abstract. Try to put the distractions aside.

The text from John’s gospel is chronologically out of sync with our Easter celebration. It is John’s version of the conversation Jesus had with his close companions on the night before he was violently executed.

It seems safe to presume that John’s Jesus recognized the motives behind their friendship with him were still quite immature.  He addresses that issue in this conversation.

He speaks of love– “my Father loves you;” of peace–  “my peace I give to you;” of the Holy Spirit who “will remind you of all that I told you;” and finally of fear: “do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  Our task is to sort through all of that.  I will try to do so by mixing it all together.

Let’s begin with the Risen One’s promise: “the Holy Spirit will remind you of all that I told you.”  In the post-resurrection decades the community of the Risen Christ was convinced that Christ is risen!  (Truly he is risen!!).  They relied upon and trusted in guidance from the Spirit of Christ.  They adapted to new circumstances and grew in many ways.

In the second millennium Christians focused on the cross and sin.  Gradually they forgot the Lord’s admonition– “do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  Fear is the oppositeof faith and love– “fear of God; fear of eternal damnation; fear of going to hell.”  In the second millennium these were (and, for some, probably still are) “strong motivating factors for ‘believing’. Since the 16th century Council of Trent, Catholic bishops operated out of fear.  They felt obliged to protect the church as “a fortress of truth,” and to serve as “scolders of the secular world.”  They promoted a religion based on fear and guilt thus blocking the Holy Spirit’s work of “reminding you of all I told you.” But one could argue that a religion based on fear has little to do with having faith in and striving to be a disciple of Christ.”

Benedict, the Bishop-emeritus of Rome, is the second of two popes, both motivated by fear, who sought to “reform the reform” of the II Vatican Council.  Recently he lamented that since the II Vatican Council, the church faces a devastating crisis. His implication is we face this crisis because the fear of hell is no longer bringing Catholics to church on Sundays. He may be right. I think he’s not!!  Many of us saw and felt the Spirit promised by the Risen Christ working through the II Vatican Council.  That Council inspired us to reclaim the central core of our faith that Christ is risen!  Truly he is risen!!  The current bishop of Rome has resumed the Council’s vision apparently convinced that “the Holy Spirit will remind us of all that the Lord told us.”

“My Father loves you.”  Faith means  “putting on the mind of Christ” and trusting that the Gracious Mystery we name God loves us without condition, even in the face of death and all of death’s agents.  Faith means being consciously aware we belong to God and to one another.  Nuclear weapons, electronic sabotage, lunatics intent on killing, global warming, ISIS, terrorists, and politicians emphasizing fear, fear, fear, make it difficult for us to “put on the mind of Christ.”

Those who do so, come to know the “shalom” Jesus intended when he told his close companions, “my peace I give to you.”  Christ’s “shalom / peace” blesses those who “put on the mind of Christ” with all that is best for us so we can enjoy a life in which nothing is lacking. Fear is the opposite of faith.  Shalom / peace is the result of faith.

Do you get it?  “My Father loves you.”  “My peace I give to you.”  “The Holy Spirit will remind you of all that I told you.”  “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Christ is risen!  Truly he is risen!!


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