Faith and Values
Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Gospel today continues the Farewell Discourses from the Last Supper in John’s Gospel. Jesus encourages the disciples that he will not abandon them but that he will send the Holy Spirit and that he will come back to them. He exhorts the apostles to keep the Commandments. When the rich young man approaches Jesus earlier in the gospels and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life he is told by Jesus to keep the Commandments. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel at the Ascension Jesus tells the apostles to teach people to keep the Commandments. This is a familiar theme which Jesus continually comes back to; the need to keep the Commandments if we want to be his followers.
When the religious leaders confronted Jesus about his liberal teachings they were afraid he was undermining traditional Jewish doctrine. But, Jesus reassures them that he has come not to abandon the Commandments but to complete them. The promise of the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is to guide and strengthen the Church in the observance of the Lord’s commands. The Holy Spirit activates the ministry of the Church, so that it can witness to the Lord who leads us to God. And so the Church grows, in mission and in service.
The ultimate Commandment of Jesus is, of course, to love. The love which God has shown us in Christ is above all else a practical love-it translates itself into action. It must enable us who profess to belong to that Church to reach out to everyone with the intensity of the love of Christ himself.