6th Sunday of Easter – Gospel Reflection

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God with us and in us

Sunday by Sunday we are moving on from the Resurrection of Jesus towards Pentecost.    The forty days from Resurrection to Ascension Thursday formed a time of transition for the Apostles.  They had to advance from knowing Jesus in the flesh to knowing the unseen God in faith.  As the Risen Lord said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen but yet believe.”

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of “another Advocate to be with you forever.”

“Advocate” is a Latin word meaning a friend/helper called to your assistance.  “Paraclete” is the Greek equivalent.  The first Advocate or divine friend called to our aid was Jesus, the Son of God come in human flesh, one with us.  “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The other or second Advocate is the Holy Spirit.

Saint Irenaeus, who lived about a hundred years after Jesus, reflected on the wonderful parable of the Prodigal Son receiving a warm hug of welcome from his loving father.  Irenaeus focused on the two hands of the father, one visible, the other unseen.  The visible hand, warmly shaking the trembling hand of the wastrel, represents Jesus.  The unseen hand, behind the son’s back, is drawing him into the heart of the father.  This is the Holy Spirit, the second Advocate.

Jesus, speaking with Nicodemus, compared the Holy Spirit to the wind.  We do not see the wind but we see its effects in the slanting of smoke, the scudding of clouds, or the scampering of leaves.  While we cannot see the Spirit we can recognise the effects of the Spirit.  “By their fruits you shall know them.”  Saint Paul listed nine fruits of the Spirit.

Three fruits manifest an intimate relationship with God: love, joy and peace.

Three fruits are qualities of a Christian relationship with other people: patience instead of irritation; kindness in thought, word and action; and goodness which sees what is good rather than bad.

Then, three fruits describe the inner strength of faith: trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

A great advance in personal prayer is from knowing a remote God-up-there to experiencing   the warm presence of God-in-here.  People have called it the fourteen- inch drop … from the brain to the heart.   “Reverence the Lord Jesus in your hearts.” (1 Pet 3:15)

I thank you, Lord, for the wonder of my being and the wonders of all creation.  Even more wonderful is my sharing now in your divine life.  You are as close to me as my breathing.

May the rhythm of my breathing be the rhythm of my prayer.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle within us the fire of your love.

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