HOMILY FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: UNFAILING PROMISE OF GOD
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 22 2022
Acts 15:1-2. 22-29
Revelations 21:10-14. 22-23
The moments and days before departure from loved ones are often filled with terrible anxiety. Our hearts are filled with fear and uncertainties. Such a time, experienced by Jesus’ closest friends, is what the liturgy presents to us in today’s gospel account.
Today is the 6th Sunday of Easter and in the liturgy we are presented with the unfailing promise of God. In the gospel, the dominant note is one of reassurance and encouragement: Christ reassures his followers that although they won’t see him again in the way they had seen him several times after his resurrection, but he will be present among them still, in the form of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. And the power of the Spirit will keep them strong in their faith in him and in their knowledge of everything that he taught them.
The Church gives us this setting as she prepares us for another departure, namely the Ascension of Jesus back to His Father in heaven, the event we will celebrate later during the week. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” He tells them. He promises them that God’s presence will be given them in a new way. The Holy Spirit will be with them to comfort them, empower them, and inspire them. They will, however, have to see God and experience God in a new way, in a spiritual way, in an inner way. God’s presence will no longer be physical and visible to them, immediately available to them as a close friend embodied in a human body, No! Instead, Jesus is now present to us and to His Church in a different way: through one another and through those who have a special role in His Church, the Apostles and their successors.
The Spirit has a mission to us, to teach us all things, to remind us of the teachings of Jesus. We must daily invite the Holy Spirit to be present in our lives and to teach us and remind us. The Spirit is not teaching something new. Rather, the Spirit is teaching the same lessons that Jesus taught: love of God and love of neighbour; service to God and service to neighbours; love and service even of our enemies. The Spirit will invite us to suffer and die for our faith and remind us that Jesus gave His life for us.
The theme of the Holy Spirit comes to the fore at this stage of the Church’s calendar, as we prepare for the departure (Ascension) of Christ from physical and earthly existence. As well as we patiently await the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
In the first reading, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the early church was able to resolve certain conflicts that arose among them. Conflicts can be solved if we pray and speak together and seek the guidance of the Spirit. The experience of the early Christians is to show us that a life of faith in Christ isn’t likely to be a carefree life, a life free from all trouble. It’s more a life where God himself is the anchor in the midst of all our troubles.
The more attention we pay to the Holy Spirit the more we would understand all that Jesus has laid down for us as commandment. We have so many situations to contend with in our world today as we bear witness to Christ. And it is only those who are attuned to the Holy Spirit that can successfully prevail in these situations, just as the early Christians were able to resolve their differences through the aid of the Holy Spirit.
In the final vision of John as recorded in the second reading, we see God fulfilling His promise, the promise to make all things new and perfect. The Old Jewish Jerusalem and Temple came under destruction in 70 A.D. But God who is ever faithful to His promise rebuilt a new Jerusalem, a perfect city, indestructible, not made from earthly materials, but coming down from heaven (Rev. 21:10) and this temple is God Himself and Christ, the lamb (Rev. 21:22).
I believe what St. John is saying is this: the Old Covenant with God is gone; the temple in Jerusalem no longer has any value as a way making God present to the people: God and his Son are available to us directly now, in our neighbours. We feel and see the presence of God in one another.
Beloved in Christ, God will always fulfil His promise. But we should bear in mind, it may not always be the way we expect him to. So we need to pray today and always that the Holy Spirit of God would help us to understand the way of God for us.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*