John 14:16 & 23
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always… Whoever loves me will keep my word…
We have another section that is skipped by the church today in the Gospel. I understand why. The focus on this section of John’s Gospel is on the coming of the Holy Spirit, or more correctly the sending of the Holy Spirit. That is appropriate for Pentecost.
However, in the section that is skipped this weekend, we hear a quote from, of all people, St. Jude, the brother of James. He is referred to as Judas, not the Iscariot. What he asks shows an insight to the declaration of Jesus at this time regarding the Holy Spirit. What St. Jude asks is: “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”
Are you catching what St. Jude caught? Jesus is becoming specific to those who would follow him. This is something I don’t think many of us have heard, or taken seriously. We hear it in the change that happened in the Eucharistic Prayers of the new missal and the consecration of the chalice. We no longer say that this was offered for ALL, but for MANY.
Here, in John’s Gospel, St. Jude is understanding, as Jesus is speaking to them, that the Holy Spirit and the promises of God are not destined for the entire world. It is not that God has predestined some to go to hell, as some Christian groups have taught. But it is the case that God recognizes there will be some – indeed many – if not a majority – of humans who find themselves in hell.
Jesus says this himself when he describes the road to hell as wide and smooth and many there are that find it; and he describes the road to heaven is narrow and rough and few there are who find it. Here, he is giving a simple description regarding how we can know that we are on the right road. It is a simple question of keeping his words, his commandments. As it says in another place in Scripture, “And they are not burdensome.” It is simply a matter of loving God and his people. (pause)
When Christianity was just beginning, the pagan Romans fought against the church. But, they also recognized how much the Christians loved one another. In fact that became the defining mark of what it meant to be Christian. It was not a matter of loving the world, loving the environment, loving your country, loving all human beings. No. It was a matter of loving God and other Christians. The early Christians were forced into a ghetto mentality or way of life. They were shunned by the “Roman elites.”
This is the status we are finding ourselves in today in our modern society. So many of the “elites” want to fight against our Christian standards.
But because we are not showing as much attention and love to one another as Christians, they are able to dismiss us as irrelevant to our modern society.
We have an excellent example of this kind of love right in our own backyard, literally in our own backyard. I am speaking of course about the apostolate of Mater Filius. Now, there is no requirement that the young ladies that are living there are explicitly Catholic or even Christian, but the whole purpose of the apostolate is to identify and share the love of Christ with these women and children who are in such need. Our society would choose to throw them aside and encourage the young women to choose abortion instead of life. (pause)
I have been saying for a long time that I did not think there was much hope for our society. I still think the same thing. But I also imagine that the early Christians thought there was not much hope for the Roman society.
St. Jude’s question was valid in Jesus’ day and it is valid in ours. To paraphrase the question: “what has happened that the Holy Spirit has been revealed to us and not to the world?” Answer: we have said yes to the love of God, and we are struggling to make that real with our brothers and sisters in the faith. Our success at that is not an option. If we don’t show God’s love to at least our fellow Christians we are failing Christ, we are failing each other, we are failing in bringing about a conversion in our society.
If the extent of our faith is found only in coming to Mass on the weekends and Holy Days, if the extent of our faith is expressed only in showing love to our immediate family, and not to our parish family, it should not be a surprise that the effect of our lives on the world around us fails to be anything of value for the kingdom of God, or for those who are not Christian.
I have one simple question, or maybe two. How much of a family is our parish? How much are you a part of that family? All right, let’s make it three questions. How do we make this a parish family that will invite others? That is the way the early Christians lived.
Lord Jesus, on this Feast of Pentecost, we always ask for a new outpouring of your Holy Spirit. But today I also ask that you make our parishes a loving family. Church custom calls me “father”. Help me to bring these parishes to an understanding that they are the family of God in this part of your kingdom. Help us all to be your children, adopted through baptism and the by will of Jesus, and anointed in the Holy Spirit with the power of your love.
This is our prayer. This is my prayer. Show us how to become your family here on earth that we may draw all people to your love. Amen.