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This Sunday we celebrate the Sixth Sunday of the season of Easter, and once again our Gospel is taken from the Gospel of John. There are three distinct sections to this Gospel. In the first section, Jesus reminds his disciples that: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our dwelling with them.” In the second section, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit, “the Advocate whom the Father will send in my name………” In the third section, Jesus reminds his disciples that “Peace” is his farewell gift to them. Therefore they are not to let their “hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Each of these sections is rich in meaning. In the first section, while the idea of God dwelling with his people would not have been new, the intimacy and immediacy of this indwelling would have been original. In the second section Jesus introduces his disciples to the Holy Spirit. Again, the people of this time would have a sense of God’s Spirit. And yet, here and later in John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the Spirit as one with, yet distinct from the Father. Finally, in the third section Jesus talks about giving his disciples peace. We often think of peace as the absence of strife or tension. For the people of Jesus’ time, however, peace or shalom had a much deeper and richer meaning. It was an abiding sense of God’s presence.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Acts of the Apostles. It is the story of one of the first conflicts in the early church. Specifically, it deals with the question of whether gentile converts to Christianity needed to be circumcised in order to be saved. (Circumcision was a sign of the Jewish convent with God.) This Sunday’s reading skips Paul and Barnabas’ trip to Jerusalem to speak to the “apostles and elders about this question” and jumps to the decision itself: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to animals, and from unlawful marriage.”
Our second reading this Sunday is from the Book of Revelation continues John’s vision of the “holy city Jerusalem.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Have you ever experienced God dwelling with you?
2. On occasion I have felt the peace that Jesus spoke of in our Gospel today. When you have experienced this peace in your life?
3. In our first reading the apostles and elders were bold in their declaration that: It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us………” When have you felt the Spirit guiding you in your life?