Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 27: Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A

April 27: Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A Revised
Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

This Sunday the readings already begin to anticipate the coming of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of this Sunday, Jesus reassures us that he will not leave us orphans. During my 20 years in Rome I spent the Easter Triduum in a parish on the outskirts of Verona. There I had the opportunity to meet many orphan children many of whom had lost parents because of death or incapacity. A good number had disability. One orphan girl stands out in my mind: Francesca. Her African mom had died in childbirth and her Italian dad had entrusted his tiny daughter to the parish orphanage. I watched Francesca grow up over the years. I recall when I first held Francisca, she cried so loudly that I gave her back to the woman caring for the orphans. As she got older, she kept her distance, even hiding from me. One day, when she was about four, I said Mass for orphans, and after Mass Francesca let me pick her up. I held her in front of me, looked into her wide, brown eyes and said, "Francesca, tu รจ mia figlia. You are my daughter." She looked at me, then reached out and put her arms around my neck. Now, it seemed to me she had been waiting to find someone who would extend to her the love she was missing from her parents. Her embrace - in an instinctive way –was in search for the family Jesus would give her. Jesus tells us that he will not leave us orphans. Sometimes we feel that way - alone, on our own. Jesus invites us to open our hearts to love him and, if we do what he commands, he will give us a family; a sense of belonging.

That is why Christ assures us that he will not leave us orphans after his ascension into heaven. He will ask the Father to give us another Advocate to be with us forever. The readings focus our attention on the coming of Christ's Spirit of Truth on the Church, the source of the Church's proclamation of the Christian message to the world. The role of the Holy Spirit in the mission of the Church from the earliest beginnings is confirmed in both the first and the second readings. In the Acts of he Apostles, Philip had gone to a Samaritan town to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We read that the people were united in welcoming the message that Philip preached. On getting the news about the success of Philip, the apostles sent Peter and John from Jerusalem to Samaria, to pray over the neophytes and lay hands on them, "and they received the Holy Spirit". The message of the risen Lord will be kept alive and passed on from one generation to the next in this missionary spirit and action of the Church, by the help of the Holy Spirit, the advocate in times of opposition and trial. The Holy Spirit, in his own silent witness continues to secure the Church's success everywhere, even in most difficult moments of hostile attacks and trials. The message in a two point: 1) it was very clear that the Holy Spirit has kept alive the faith and hope of the American Catholics touched by the Pope’s message in his six day visit; 2) We pray that our hope in the risen Lord may strengthen us, and enable us to overcome any trials in difficult moments.

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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