Liturgical Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter
In today’s Gospel we are taken to the scene of the last supper, where Jesus having taught His disciples about serving and loving each other by washing their feet, calls on them to keep his commandments in response to his love.
What are these commandments? To love God “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”, and to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
While these two commandments to love God and neighbour are simply worded, Jesus understood that His disciples would struggle to fulfil this on their own, and would need God’s presence to empower them.
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always” (John 14:16). Jesus reassures His disciples that God the Father will send the Holy Spirit to be with them always, giving them the strength to accomplish this and remain steadfast in obeying His teachings.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit is a powerful gift of God’s love. At baptism we are given the Holy Spirit to guide us at the beginning of our faith and throughout our lives. Like a personal helper and friend, the Spirit aids, directs, and counsels us when we face tribulations and or find it difficult to keep the faith.
The Advocate Jesus spoke of gave clarity and reassurance to the disciples, even as they set out into a society and world that were opposed to what they were sent forth to proclaim. “The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:17).
In our increasingly secularised society, we too can easily feel discouraged, especially when faced with resistance or even resentment from others when living out our faith. Yet, in the second reading, St Peter tells us that having been empowered by the Holy Spirit we should “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15).
During the current COVID-19 situation, have we a newfound boldness in speaking to others about our faith, or have we found the inner strength to proclaim the Good News? Have we kept the commandments by loving our neighbour, such as catching up with a friend who recently lost his or her job, or ordered food for an elderly neighbour, or encouraged others to join our parish’s online mass, Zoom formation and sharing sessions?
Many of us now have an abundance of time, yet still find ourselves working longer hours than before. By busying ourselves and rushing through our prayers and quiet time with the Lord, have we short-changed our relationship with God, and still love Him with the same amount as before, instead of with all our heart, soul and mind?
In the first reading, the people of Samaria experienced “great joy” as they witnessed the miracles being worked in their midst, believing and opening themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. Even amidst the challenges of keeping the faith in our present times, we should take hope that the Holy Spirit is always present within us, empowering and enlightening us with the wisdom and knowledge to do what is right, and truly love God and our neighbour.
When we learn to listen to and deepen our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we can then see God’s hand in our lives and tell of His great love to those we meet. As the psalmist proclaims in the responsorial psalm, “Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness!” (Psalm 66:16,20). In doing so, our actions and words can then become fruits of goodness, giving life and hope to the world.
By Leon Chng, Mervyn & Christine Wong, Victor Chua