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Homily for Sixth Sunday of Easter, A

19 May 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

In our Creed, we express our faith in God, maker of all things, visible and invisible. The visual is the material world, while the invisible is the spirit world. In our first reading, we see two spirits at work; the unclean spirits and the Holy Spirit. At Samaritan town, Philip went to proclaim the word of God, and God confirmed his word with signs and wonders. Unclean spirits came out of people, and when Peter and John laid their hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit.

This Holy Spirit is the advocate Jesus talks about in our gospel reading this morning; he not only promised the advocate, but he did fulfil the promise. He sent the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, together they are worshiped and glorified; one God in whom we have salvation. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are reassured of our place in God, our hope is rekindled, and we must not let it go. That is what St. Peter tells us in our second reading; Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. To have hope in Christ is not to be afraid; the resurrection spirit is not of timidity but boldness. Jesus consistently insists that we must not be afraid; fear not; not even in the face of death.

In his reflection on today’s readings, Denis McBride, C.SS.R., told a story of a priest who was condemned to death by firing squad, but before the blindfold was put on him, he was asked to make a last request as it is traditionally done. He requested to play his flute for the last time. The firing-squad is stood at ease as they wait for the prisoner to play. When he does, the prison compound is filled with music that sounds all the more beautiful in this strange place. The officer is worried because the more the music plays, the more absurd his task appears. He ordered the prisoner to stop playing, ties the blindfold, and gives the soldiers the command to fire.

Brethren, what would make a prisoner condemned to die by firing-squad to play his flute before his executioners? No fear, no tears, no tension. The magic is faith and hope, hope in God, the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Paul tells us that hope does not disappoint because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). In life, we fight impossibilities; we fight hopelessness, we face the challenging moment that sometimes tries our patience and puts our hope to the test. But We know that in everything, God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).

We must have answers for those who would ask us for the reasons behind our smiles. Even when things don’t seem to go our way, we smile against all odds because we have the hope that all things will work together for our good. Every challenging situation you face today will work together for your good; hold on, don’t let your faith and hope grow cold. With the help of the Holy Spirit, our faith and our hope are strengthened. The Holy Spirit is not just what Christ promised, but a promise fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is with us, the manifestation of God’s continued presence and power in the Church. Jesus says, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive… Because Jesus says if we love him, we must keep his commandments. He shall then ask the Father for the Holy Spirit; some people may begin to feel that the Holy Spirit is given to only those who can keep God’s commandments, it is not true. The Holy Spirit is not given to only those who can keep God’s commandments but given to everyone who believes in Christ. The Holy Spirit is not a judge but a helper, a comforter, an advocate who helps us in our struggle to love God above all things and keep his commandments. Therefore, we must not let our hope in Christ die no matter what we go through in life; he promised not to leave us orphans. As we celebrate this Sunday, let our hopes in Christ be renewed, and let our good Christian life prove every accusation wrong.