2017-05-21, 6th Easter A, I’ll Be Watching You!

Homily 05-21-17
6th Sunday of Easter, Cycle A
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20; 1 Pt 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21

(Scriptures included after homily)


If you’re over, about 40, as I’m sure a good number of us are, do you ever wonder; as you’re out-there, cruising around Columbia, MO, if maybe, it’s about time for us to be taking a refresher course in driving? . . .

Because, it seems to me that somewhere between 17 and now, all the Rules have changed: turn signals are never used any more, stop signs and red lights seem to mean – GO without looking, and driving the speed limit is a call for every other driver on the road to follow us within 6-inches of our bumper.

I was thinking that they just wanted to get a little closer look at my Jesus sticker.  But then I realized – that maybe the Rules just changed while I wasn’t looking.  It sure IS different from the driving that I learned . . .

And THAT’s just driving, not to mention the 90-other aspects of our daily lives that have changed.

But we Smile,
and keep on keeping on!

St Peter tells us today,
to always be ready to give an Explanation for our Hope.

And I had to wonder,
“Isn’t it obvious?” 

“There, but for the Grace of God, we all made it here todayalive!”

.     .     .

And yet, the “Explanation” that Peter is talking about really does go a lot deeper than just surviving a cultural change; even though adapting to change and accepting diversity are pretty important in our lives.

For example, the Pharisees, who became believers in Jesus, were still carrying some legal baggage, like their Sabbath Rules and circumcision, that they had to drop before they could ever become – True Disciples.

And even the Apostles had to learn to accept those non-Jewish, pagan Gentiles and the renegade Samaritans into the Faith, as we heard today, because following that Commission of Jesus – to go into the whole world and make disciples (Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15) meant leaving the comfort zone of Jerusalem and going “down” into those regions of dis-comfort.

Kind of like our still driving in a world with meaningless rules.

It doesn’t mean that we start breaking the rules too.  It just means that we learn to EXPECT – the Unimaginable.  And we teach – by Example!

You see, Deacon Philip didn’t go “down” into Samaria – just because he got tired of Jerusalem.  Philip was fleeing for his Life, because a hornet’s-nest of Jesus-haters was stirred up by Deacon Stephen’s zealous defense of the Messiah, which not only led to Stephen’s execution, but it began a furious persecution of Stephen’s brothers in the faith; people like Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor and all those other unpronounceable Deacon’s names that we heard last week.

And just as Jesus found an open heart in a thirsty Samaritan woman at a well, Deacon Philip also found a community that was ripe for New Hope in a hopeless society.

You see, Philip – EXPLAINED
that Gospel Good News,
just as Peter recommended,

and a thirsty Community found the JOY of Jesus in the Waters of Baptism.

A joy that was Confirmed when the Apostles laid their blessed hands upon them, to infuse those Samaritan lives with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

And in the process, Jesus was Sanctified as Lord of their hearts.

Talk about Conversion!

Not only did these age-old enemies of the Jews, the Samaritans, accept the Blessing and the physical touch of the Jews, but the Jewish Apostles gave that Blessing – without hesitation!

THAT’s the work of the Holy Spirit!

.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Jesus said, “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  Jn 14:21

Notice how it all starts with us!
“Whoever – loves me . . .”

If we refuse to Love, if we slam that door closed, how could any Love from Jesus, or God, or any other person – possibly return to us?

But if we open our hearts and love others, the Holy Spirit will fill us with so much Love in return, that we will have a hard time notoverflowing with Joy, just like those Samaritans.

When we open our hearts to God’s Love, the Holy Spirit will ABOUND in our lives:

– He will Save us from fatal accidents, when stop signs are ignored;

– She will Lead us to incredible riches, in the midst of our poverty;

– He will Unite us with those – who we thought – were our worst enemies;

– The Holy Spirit will free us from Worry, help us to solve our most baffling Problems, fill us with Peace, strengthen us with Patience and irradiate our lives with Hope.

You see, many of us here can give countless examples of all of these ‘workings’ of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  I know I can.  And it’s no less miraculous than the healing signs of Deacon Philip, Paul, Peter and the other Apostles.

Jesus was Born into this world,
not to save us from sin,
although He did that too,
but because of God’s unfathomable
and unconditional LOVE for us.
(Franciscan Incarnational Theology)

Are we ready to give an Explanation
to anyone who asks us
for a reason for our hope?

You see, for me, I realize that I’m just another imperfect and often failing – human person.  But I also know that God’s Love is Living in me.  And I know that I am being saved with every breath I take.

With every move I make,
I know that HE is always
watching over me!

What about YOU?

jmp 05-21-17


Scripture Readings for the Mass of 05-21-17
Sixth Sunday of Easter
, A

First Reading:  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.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

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!”

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

“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.

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

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.

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

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!

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Reading 2: 1 Pt 3:15-18

Beloved: 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.

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.”


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