Notes ( not a sermon ) on 6th Sunday Easter.
Approaching Pentecost–At the end of his life Jesus teaches us about the Holy Spirit.
- “ If you love me, keep my commandments.” His commandments are his gifts to us — our road to eternal life, happiness and union with the Father. Going to Mass on Sundays, telling the truth etc., are acts of love, not just of obligation . Keeping them unites us with Christ Our Lord. His commandments are not just obligations, but more importantly and wonderfully, his gifs to us. In the last analysis , union with the Saviour is the only thing that matters in our lives.
- “ The Father will give you another advocate to be with you for ever “ An advocate stands by you, defends you in court, comforts you. Notice the word “another “ The first advocate is Jesus himself –Jesus was seen in his body, but the Spirit is invisible and so the “world “ ( i.e. non-believers ) does not know him
- “You know him because he is with you, he is in you “ The death and resurrection of Christ was outside us–earning salvation for us by his obedience. Now the Spirit, as a result of salvation. is given to our minds, hearts and souls, changing our natures from being sinners to being children of God, inspiring, comforting, encouraging. We are spirits and we needed the Holy Spirit to apply the salvation to us –to change our spirits from being sinful into being grace-filled and holy
- “ I will not leave you orphans “ By means of the Spirit Jesus will be with his followers and they know him.
- “I am in the Father, and you in me and I in you “ By the power of the Spirit living in us, Jesus and his Father will also dwell in us, and we will be loved by the Father and by Jesus . This is very important teaching–it is the Spirit that binds the Church together and which binds us with the Holy Trinity. At the end of his life Jesus explains to his disciples, and to us, a truth beyond our wildest imagining–the union of the Blessed Trinity ( called “indwelling “ ) with those who obey the commandments, or gifts, of Jesus–that is how we show our love for him
- “ Acts of the Apostles “ –story of the early church, read during Easter-tide. Philip the Deacon goes to the Samaritans ( traditional enemies of the Jews ), preaches the Word, and baptises large numbers of them. But they do not receive the Holy Spirit. To this day, Deacons can baptise but not confirm. The Apostles in Jerusalem have to come down, lay their hands on the baptised Samaritans and they receive the Holy Spirit. This is the origin of the Sacrament of Confirmation. That is why the Bishop ( successor to the Apostles ) confirms, or his priest delegate, and anoints the candidate with Chrism blessed by the Bishop on Holy Thursday. In the Eastern Church, the priest administers all three Sacraments simultaneously , Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, ( the Sacraments of initiation ) , but even then he has to use oil blessed by the Bishop. Very often “ Confirmation “ is called “ Chrismation”, especially in the East, referring to the anointing with Chrism, symbol of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation is very closely connected with Baptism but it is a separate Sacrament, and this distinctiveness is better emphasised in the Western Church by the ministry of the Bishop, successor of the Apostles .