The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Easter Week VI-A, 17 May 2020
Acts of the Apostle 8:5-8, 14-17 ><)))*> 1 Peter 3:15-18 ><)))*> John 14:15-21
We are about to end two great seasons in our liturgy and still, here we are in our enhanced community quarantine due to COVID-19. Prospects remain dim as experts say the corona virus may never be totally eradicated despite the discovery of vaccines and medicines later this year.
It is in this background we find our readings this Sunday so reassuring, reminding us of how so often in history that tragic or painful events in the lives of individuals and societies have led to happy endings.
In our first reading, we have seen how the persecution of the Church at Jerusalem so tragic but at the same time also helped spread Christianity so fast led by the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus Christ before he was betrayed and arrested on that Holy Thursday evening.
All this is possible if we believe in Jesus, if we love Jesus.
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, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”John 14:15-18
Intimacy with Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit
For the first time, Jesus promised during their Last Supper the sending of the Holy Spirit when he fulfills his mission.
In most translations, the Holy Spirit is referred to as Advocate although some prefer the transliteration Paraclete from its original Greek Parakletos to truly capture its full meaning or context.
Only St. John used the word Parakletos to denote the Holy Spirit. In its Hellenistic context, Parakletos had come to be known as Advocate like a lawyer or a friend who speaks on behalf of the “accused” like Jesus in a hostile world (Jn.16:7-11).
However, St. John also used parakletos in different contexts like in our gospel today.
See how before introducing to us the sending of the Holy Spirit, Jesus speaks more of a grand instruction – in fact, a reality, a truth in the life of his every disciple: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn.14:15).
Without specifying any commandments to keep, Jesus further explained that “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me” (Jn.14:21). He would be speaking of this like a refrain four more times later to stress that loving Jesus is keeping his commandments.
It is a very difficult task to fulfill and most often, more difficult to understand or interpret especially when we are in real life-situations like loving an arrogant president or loving officials who break the rules of quarantine!
This is so because Jesus himself is the law, the commandments which is his very person; therefore, to love him is to be like him and that is always keeping his commandments of love.
And that is why Jesus made sure to inscribe this lesson and reality into his disciples’ memory and hearts during their last supper by promising the Holy Spirit he called as Parakletos who would be acting as his Advocate, Counsellor, and Comforter when he returns to the Father.
It is the Holy Spirit who leads us now into an intimacy with Christ that we are able to love Jesus, love like Jesus, and love in Jesus. This is the same Holy Spirit who binds the Three Persons of the Trinity in love who also makes us one with God and with others.
Making Jesus present in our love
We make Jesus most present when we love because when we love, everything changes for the best, even the most difficult and worst situations in life.
Albert Camus rightly said when he wrote in his 1947 novel The Plague now being reread due to the corona virus, that “A loveless world is a dead world.”
Without love, we would have gone extinct by now.
Because of love, every tragedy, every suffering and problem we go through leads to happy ending primarily because we discover something, someone beyond far more important than any situation or plight we may be into.
Most of all, love has a distinctive characteristic that moves the lover to become like the beloved. This is the reason why we who love strive harder, persevere and forge into every obstacle and fight until we are one with our beloved!
And who is ultimately our very love?
The God revealed to us by Jesus Christ his Son who became human like us to be one with us in everything including death except sin so that we become like him – divine – in his Resurrection.
Jesus Christ whom we “sanctify as Lord in our hearts” (1Pt.3:15) is the one we imitate and follow, the one we see and, most of all, the only one we (must) share when we love, when we serve especially in this time of the corona pandemic.
Sometimes, it is still difficult to believe how these pandemic and quarantine are happening to us when all of a sudden here comes typhoon Ambo that wreaked a path of destruction in the Visayas and Bicolandia the other day, making us wonder what is happening in the world right now?
Making things worst that have stressed us all so much is our government at all levels lacking preparations, with some officials into alleged corruptions while the enforcers of the laws are the ones breaking all the rules of quarantine!
We just keep on hoping things would get better by starting right at our own end.
Sometimes it can be funny although painful when some people forget us or take us for granted, thinking we are fine or doing great without any hint of the sufferings within.
But the grace is always there because Jesus is within each one of us who believes in him and tries hard to keep his commandments.
“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.”John 14:19-20
We just have to do our part, to keep on believing in Jesus, loving Jesus, and most of all, keeping his commandments because Jesus is the “explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope” (1Pt.3:15).
This does not mean the world is lacking the Lord’s presence.
He has not left us indeed and sooner or later, we shall see how he, the God of history, will direct everything according to his greater plan for us.
Today’s gospel reminds us of his assurance to be with us always in the Holy Spirit.
It is now our turn to pick up the pieces and make him more felt, especially in comforting those affected severely by the many storms that hit us in this time of the corona virus.
Have a blessed Sunday and stay safe! Amen.