When the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated the following Sunday, the second reading and Gospel from the 7th Sunday of Easter may be read on the 6th Sunday of Easter.
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Ps 66:1-7, 16, 20
1 Peter 3:15-18
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is our “Advocate”. Some scholars translate the word to “Counselor”. In the original Greek, it means “called alongside”. It’s closely related to the verb “parakaleo” (“to call” or “summon”) from which we get “Paraclete” as a name for the Holy Spirit. It referred to a legal assistant, a courtroom advocate. Jesus is telling us that the Holy Spirit is our legal assistant when we’re falsely accused, misjudged, or wrongly condemned.
Notice that Jesus refers to our Advocate as the “Spirit of Truth”. No matter what other people think about us, no matter what wrong things they say about us, no matter what opinions they have of us, God always knows the truth. And the truth that sets us free from their bad attitudes is this: It’s only God’s opinion that really matters. And his opinion of us is better than we think it is!
We judge ourselves more harshly than we should, and this is why we worry so much about how others are judging us. If we honestly examine our consciences, seek reconciliation with God for our sins during the Penance Rite at Mass or in the Sacrament of Confession, and strive to improve, then Jesus says to us what he said to other sinners: “I do not condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Don’t you sometimes wish that Jesus would come physically to your rescue when you’re misjudged? He said that he will not leave us orphans — his Holy Spirit will always be with us when we need to be defended, telling us the truth about our goodness.
Even when we sin, the Spirit of Truth defends us to our heavenly Judge: “Look, this precious child really does want to be holy.” To us, the Spirit says, “Let me teach you how to grow in holiness and avoid this sin.” And to others, the Spirit says: “If you love me, love this good friend of mine.”
Questions for Personal Reflection:
How have you been unjustly accused and unfairly judged? Imagine what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Father about that. And to those who condemned you. What is he saying to you about you?
Questions for Group Faith Sharing:
Describe a time when God defended you. How did the Advocate manifest his help? Who learned more from it: you or your accusers?
Thank You, Lord, for keeping us in Your love, for letting us know Your greatness, and for offering us hope of new life in abundance! Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica