Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A), May 25, 2014, (1) provides insights into the Sunday Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)
Central idea: The Holy Spirit gives life to our faith. Doctrine: Communion of life and love. Practical application: Apologetics.
To view the Lectionary 55 readings, click here.
Central Idea: The Holy Spirit gives life to our faith
Reading 1 Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
they sent them Peter and John,
who went down and prayed for them,
that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
and they received the Holy Spirit.
- Because of the dramatic good they received from him, the Samaritans paid attention to the deacon Philip’s proclamation of Christ and were baptized.
- The apostles Peter and John then went to them and gave them another sacrament, what we call confirmation, laying hands on them so they received the Holy Spirit.
Responsorial Psalm Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
R/ Let all the earth cry out to God with joy or Alleluia
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!”
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
- What has motivated God to create? His love and goodness. For what end has he created? To reveal and communicate his glory through the benefits which he bestows on his creatures (CCC 293).
- Among all creatures, human beings are specially privileged because we can know this and consciously enjoy it.
- Why should we worship and praise God? The answer is very simple. He does good things for us. He answers our prayers and is kind to us.
Reading 2 1 Pt 3:15-18
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.
- Christians who are really living their faith have something that the world does not: hope for salvation.
- The world has had to try to find happiness in all kinds of behavior that is not good or not good enough. The world may malign us for doing good and for rejecting the evil the world calls good.
- This is a kind of blindness the world has. The world does not see or know and so cannot accept the Holy Spirit of truth.
- But that is not the end of the story. We can enlighten anyone who asks “a reason for your hope.”
- To speak effectively to the world we must first be doing good and then we can explain our hope “with gentleness and reverence.”
- It may be God’s will that we suffer for doing good. Why? So we can do what Christ did: suffer for sins to lead men to God.
Gospel Jn 14:15-21
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
- Keeping the commandments is the proof of our love for Christ.
- “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”
- This is what St. Paul meant by “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.”
- This loving obedience “unlocks” the life of the Blessed Trinity for us.
- “And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
- At the Son’s request, the Father will send to us the Holy Spirit (the Advocate).
- What will the Holy Spirit do for us?
- He will be with us always and we will know it.
- He will reveal to us the truth, because he is the Spirit of truth.
- He will make us children of God.
- He will show us Christ and that he lives.
- He will show us that we have life through Christ.
- He will show us that Christ is in the Father.
- He will show us that we are in Christ and Christ is in us.
- In other words, through the gift of the Holy Spirit we will see that there is a communion of life and love in God, between Christ and his Church, and among her members.
Doctrine: The communion of life and love
- Communion means union-with. Communion can be thought of as a state of perfect friendship that fulfills our deepest needs and desires as social beings. What could be better than being in a relationship in which we both receive and give life and love? Does such a thing exist anywhere? The answer our Catholic faith gives us is yes.
- The communion of life and love pertains first of all to God’s Trinitarian life.
- “God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion” (CCC 2331).
- God shares the communion of life and love with human beings.
- “Creating the human race in his own image . . . , God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion” (CCC 2331).
- This human communion of life and love is established first and foremost in the marriage covenant, in the expression of intimate love between husband and wife and the new society created by their offspring (CCC 1660). The family is the human communion of life and love par excellence.
- A communion of life and love is what the Church herself is on two levels: first, in the relationship between Christ and all the members; and second, among her members on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven.
- This communion is what heaven is: a “communion of life and love with the Trinity, with the Virgin Mary, the angels and all the blessed . . . , the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024).
Practical Application: Apologetics
- Apologetics is explaining the Catholic faith to others to show them it is reasonable.
- Apologetics removes obstacles to a person making the act of faith, which is a consequence of God’s grace inviting him and his free response.
- The Holy Spirit will help us live and defend our faith.
- It is foolish to think people will listen to us if we are not living good lives and doing good for others, like Philip was.
- We must also know the fundamentals of our faith. This requires on-going formation on our part.
- Then we can explain our hope “with gentleness and reverence,” as St. Peter advises us.