Date: May 17, 2020 (Easter)
Bible Text: ACTS 8:5-8, 14-17; JN 14:15-21 | Fr. Roniel Duenas
Series: Scripture Reflections
What I love most when I am home is I don’t get old. Everyone in the parish may look up to me as an elder of the flock, or “as Fr. Roniel”, but I remain my mother’s son when I am home. When I divulge to my mom regarding my five-year ministry here in the US, she started to be concerned about who’s going to take care of me if something happens. Would I be able to live by the loneliness for being too far away from home? Who will prompt me to take my medicine? Who will remind me or “yell at me” if I’m not behaving well?
Sometime last year, I told mom not to worry anymore. I got a hundred more moms here who are taking care of me and looking after my welfare. Needless to say, my mom and dad want to send their love and gratitude to all of you, for all you do for their son.
Now, we may also be asking, what can we do to make Jesus’ Father happy and love us in turn. Jesus, in today’s gospel, shares us the secret: “whoever loves me will be loved by my Father.” The happiest person in the world could be a mom or a dad who knows that their son is in good hands. In the same manner, the joy of our heavenly Father is to see the world finally listen to His Son and believe in Him. Our Heavenly Father will love us for that, and the great thing about God loving us is that He never abandons us. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”
A lawyer’s dog, running around town unleashed, heads for a butcher shop and steals a roast. The butcher goes to the lawyer’s office and asks, “If a dog running unleashed steals a piece of meat from my store, do I have a right to demand payment for the meat from the dog’s owner?” The lawyer answers, “Absolutely.” “Then you owe me $8.50. Your dog was loose and stole a roast from me today.” The lawyer, without a word, writes the butcher a check for $8.50. The butcher, with a feeling of satisfaction, leaves. Three days later, the butcher finds a bill from the lawyer for $100– for consultation.
What I am saying, is: Jesus will give us the Holy Spirit, the true advocate, who will guide, inspire, and strengthen our witnessing to the faith. In one of the missionary journeys of Paul, the Holy Spirit prevented them from going to the province of Asia and to a place called Bithynia perhaps to save them from unnecessary troubles. In the conversion of the Eunuch, it was the Holy Spirit who guided Philip to meet this man who had been seeking enlightenment and was ready to accept the faith. For more than two thousand years, the church has been left to the care and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Yes, she has been to so many troubles, in fact, we just recently have the “yellow signal” for the re-opening of our church buildings due to the pandemic but we wonder how she stays and comes out strong amidst these trying times. It is because God loves us. He loves his church.
A sailboat got caught in heavy seas. A rogue wave flipped the boat over. The heavy keel righted the boat, but there was heavy damage. An SOS brought the Coast Guard (CG). The seas were so rough the CG ship could not rescue the crew. So, it placed itself as close as it could to the sailboat. The CG protected the sailboat from the brunt of the 10-foot waves. Finally, they made port.
The Holy Spirit plays the same relation to us. He takes the brunt of our troubles. He not only lives inside us but He walks beside us. He brings us into port. (Unknown) Now, isn’t it a consolation to have been repeatedly assured that God will never abandon us?
On another end, our readings today speak of concrete terms on how are we able to respond and show our love for the Lord who actually loves us first. As far as the apostles were concerned, Philip proclaimed Christ untiringly; went from place to place to cleanse many possessed people, cured the paralyzed and the crippled; brought joy to the city. Peter and John, in an apostolic visit, went to churches to confer the sacrament of confirmation to the baptized by the laying down of their hands. In the second reading, Peter exhorts us to keep ourselves ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks about our faith in Christ. Definitely, he is addressing all of us who have received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of confirmation. And by virtue of this sacrament, Peter reminds us further that we have become Christ’s soldiers commissioned to defend our faith; we are called to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. That’s why whenever possible we have to open our churches to draw people to worship Him.
This Sunday’s gospel begins with Jesus telling us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The main condition to show our love for the Lord is to follow what he tells us. Unlike the Pharisees who only demanded the minimum of the Law; Jesus wants us to do the maximum requirement of the Law. He wants us to love as He loves. Jesus wants us to do things according to how He meant it, not according to our own selfish ways.
In this trying time of the pandemic, the Lord’s call to love would mean: if we have been in the front lines giving care to the sick, attending to their family’s concerns, we continue to dedicate our lives to the service of those in need because we know it’s Jesus telling us to love. And for all of us, in the spirit of charity, we always act as part of the solution no matter how small our contribution may be.
We are thankful to the Lord for today’s “yellow signal” for the re-opening of our churches. We are still on a transition though, but we’re in the threshold of having to experience again what we have been missing so much for a long time. If coming to church and bringing our family to pray is quite an inconvenience in this time of “new normal”, we do some extra sacrifice for the sake of our Love for God.
If we love someone we do what pleases them. This love moves us to do things we might not want to do, and even things that we might see as a sacrifice.