Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, A26 May 2017, by Sermons in
A few days ago, we celebrated the ascension of Jesus Christ; he promised to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. After Jesus was taken up to heaven, we see in our first reading this morning that the apostles, together with the other women, returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives and locked themselves up in the upper room in prayer. The Lord had directed the apostles to make disciples of all nations, baptise in the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But he asked them to wait until the advocate comes. That period of waiting was for the apostles a period of different things: it was a period of fear, a period of intimidations, a period of faith, a period of prayer, and a period of standing on the promises of God.
For us, the case is not different. We are always experiencing moments of waiting: some are waiting to give birth, to be promoted in their offices, for their goods to arrive, for holidays, and so many other things we may be waiting for. This period of waiting, in most cases, is filled with anxieties; we are anxious, we are afraid, we are hopeful, and we are prayerful. This period of waiting can be dangerous because anything can happen. We are either destroyed or strengthened, we either lose our faith in the process or are made strong. So many have fallen away from their Christian faith in the process of waiting, but the word of God reminds us that those who wait on the Lord shall have their strength renewed (Is. 40:31).
Coming back to the apostles, they waited in Jerusalem for the promised advocate. They were only told to wait for a comforter, a teacher, an advocate, to wait for power from above. How this advocate was going to come, or how they would be given this power, they were not sure. They were not even sure of the day to expect him, but they held onto the promise of God. Jesus promised that he is going to the Father and that he would send the advocate; it was a promise that the apostles held onto with faith, they were sure that Jesus would not go back on his word. That is the kind of assurance Jesus wants us to have, that in the midst of the uncertainties of this world, we must learn to hold onto the promise of God. That is what he wants from us, to trust him, to trust every of his word in good and in what seems to be bad times.
In moments of turbulence, we are tempted to doubt the word of God, to question his faithfulness. When things around us seem to be falling apart or not go as we expected, we begin to wonder if God still exists; but he does. The cross is not a sign of divine unfaithfulness; misfortunes do not suggest that God has abandoned us. In our gospel passage this morning, we see Jesus lifted his eyes and prayed, asking the Father to glorify him, and this glory is through the cross. The cross is not a curse, just as the misfortunes we sometimes suffer does not indicate Divine absence. God is with us, his name is Emmanuel, and he knows about the troubles, the pains, and agonies of life. Through the same hell (the cross), he glorified the Father; he praised the Father by being obedient to death. Therefore, as followers of Christ Jesus, we are blessed in him and are called to glorify him in our trust and obedience. It is in faith and obedience in Christ we gain eternal life. Jesus says; And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
St. Paul tells us in his letter to Philippians 3:10 that all he wanted was to know Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection. Any Christian who has no real knowledge of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ is not yet a Christian; it is our knowledge of Jesus Christ and our faith in his resurrection power that makes us Christians. Anyone who has no experience or has no confidence in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ is lost; he or she begins to pursue powerless forces and put their trust in them. However, a real Christian trusts the word of God; he or she holds onto the promise of Christ, the promise of eternal life, and like the Psalmist says; I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.
Today, as we celebrate the seventh Sunday of Easter, let us renew our confidence in every promise God has made. He will not go back on his word. God’s faithfulness does not depend on how faithful we are, but in our unfaithfulness, we must have the faith to hold onto his faithfulness and let him lead us out of the life of unrighteousness into the life of glory.