Fr. Mike’s homily for Monday of the 6th week of Easter
Theme: The Spirit of truth
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Monday May 10 2021
John 15:26 -16:4a
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.
Before finally ascending to the Father, Jesus bids farewell to His disciples with the following words: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In other words, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit on His disciples so that they will be able to fulfill their mission as witnesses of His Gospel throughout the entire world.
Giving witness is not a simple matter. It is not just being mere spectator. When a person is summoned to the witness stand, he is required to make an oath to the veracity of his statement, and promise “to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.” He is being made aware that declaring something false and fabricated is a crime of perjury punishable by law. Giving witness, therefore, can be a risky undertaking.
There is a biblical passage that is oftentimes erroneously interpreted. This is the declaration of the Apostle Paul to the Romans: “For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. (Rom 10:9). There are some groups of Christians, particularly the fundamentalist sects, who think that St. Paul is teaching people to disregard good works, and that a simple profession of faith in Jesus is enough to attain salvation. That is why they hold on to the “faith alone” (sola fide) principle.
What they fail to consider is the fact that when St. Paul wrote his Letter to the Romans, it was during the time of intense persecutions of Christians. Hence, simply by being known as Christian – to ‘profess’ the faith in Jesus – is tantamount to signing one’s own death sentence. Those who publicly give witness to Christ, therefore, are assured of salvation, for they are willing to die for Christ. In Greek, which is the language used in the New Testament, the word ‘witness’ is ‘martyr’.
The supreme witness that a person can give is by offering his life for the sake of Christ. That is why, as the number of martyrs increased, the number of converts to Christianity also increased, exponentially. The early Christian writer, Tertullian, rightly concluded, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” The martyrs are the greatest witnesses to Christ. In the Gospel today, Jesus is telling His disciples that they will testify or give witness to Him. This is a subtle way of telling them to be ready for sufferings, persecutions and even martyrdom.
However, lest we think that it is necessary to die for Christ in order to be saved, we must remember that the saints in heaven are not only the martyrs. There are also those who did not shed their blood for the faith: confessors, pastors, virgins and religious, holy men and women. They did not die for the faith, but they lived for the faith. Theirs was not an easy life, though. They were ostracized, slandered, attacked and marginalized because of their witness to the faith. What they have is called ‘white martyrdom’.
The Lord is fully aware of what the disciples will face on account of the Gospel: “in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Hence, He finds it absolutely necessary to send the Holy Spirit to them.
In the Gospel today, Jesus promises that the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth will come. In Greek, the word Paraclete means a person who stands by one and gives support. The word is sometimes translated ‘Advocate’, similar to a defense lawyer. It can be anyone who gives encouragement, comfort, or wise advice.
In baptism, we all have received the Holy Spirit. Thus, we also received the same mission as that of the disciples. We too are called to be ʹwitnessesʹ (martyrs) of Jesus Christ with our lives. Though we may not have the privilege of a ‘red martyrdom’, but these times certainly call for ‘white martyrdom’: when we work honestly, proclaim and defend the principles of our Christian faith, when we refuse to join a bad conversation, gossip, blasphemy, or when we fight for the lives and rights of the unborn and the oppressed. And because of all these, we are ridiculed, ostracized and maligned, that is way to bear witness to Jesus.
In this time, when the values of the world are turned upside down, this is never an easy nor, a risk-free task. We need to pray always that the Holy Spirit continually guide, strengthen and protect us in the fulfillment of our mission.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches