Archive for May 13th, 2023

God Is With His People

May 13, 2023

6th Sunday of Easter
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

We are approaching the end of the Easter season. Next Sunday, we will celebrate the Ascension of the Lord into heaven. At today’s point in Easter time, Jesus is about to leave the world and return to His Father, as he promises to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples. He tells them that he will not leave them orphaned but his Spirit will be with the church and his people till the end of time.

Today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles was a historical event in the church. Deacon Philip was on a mission to Samaritans, who were non-Jewish. While he was preaching to them, they accepted Jesus as their promised Messiah and received the Holy Spirit in their lives through the laying of the hands of Peter and John. The laying of hands is used in the church even today at baptism, confirmation, and ordination.

Today’s Gospel is once again in the context of the Last Supper. Jesus is preparing His disciples for his coming suffering and death but also for his resurrection and Ascension. Jesus promises them that even after his ascension he will remain with them in a very different way from now. He tells them clearly that he is the way, truth, and life. Jesus promises His Holy Spirit, the “Advocate”. The Advocate will come upon the Apostles and continue the work of Jesus.

Advocate” means an intercessor, defender, and witness for the accused, best friend, comforter in distress, counselor, and Helper. The Advocate is always by our side to instruct and correct us when we make mistakes. The Advocate encourages and motivates us when we fall down, and fights for our rights when judges are unfair.

God is with us neither judging us nor rejecting us but patiently waiting and calling us to change. God is with us in our suffering. When sickness and death surround us, God is with us affirming us and calling us to patience and to courage. There is a beautiful line in today’s second reading. It says, “Always be prepared to give your defense to anyone who wants an explanation of the hope that is within you.” Always be ready to explain why we are people of hope. We are people of hope because God is with us. God is with us now and always. God is with us forever. We are not alone. In good times and in bad, God’s presence will always be with us. No matter how hard life is, He will stay with us and will never leave us. God, the Holy Spirit, is always our Advocate.

Pay special attention to the Holy Spirit who is present in your thoughts, words, and deeds. Give thanks for all the gifts you have received. Ask the Holy Spirit to take over your life, and allow Him to fill you with His gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control.

Proclaim What Christ Has Done For You

May 13, 2023

6th Sunday of Easter
By Fr. Victor Feltes

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how Philip went to Samaria and proclaimed 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.” Who was doing these signs? The natural sense of this scripture passage refers to Philip, whom the crowds saw and heard and believed. But in a supernatural sense, it was the Christ being proclaimed to them who was performing these signs through and with Philip. In our gospel, Jesus tells us, “I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” Jesus would have others behold and hear of his great works in you and me.

The psalmist in today’s psalm says, “Hear now… while I declare what he (the Lord) has done for me. Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness!” It is good to declare and share what God has done for you. St. Peter teaches all Christians in today’s second reading to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” What are your life’s best God stories? What is the Lord doing with and for you recently? I have two personal examples to share, one old and one current.

When I was about thirteen years old, I remember being in the living room of my house thinking about life and death, when nature called. While heading to the bathroom on the other side of the house, I got stopped in my tracks at the architectural crossroads of our home. It would be a crossroads moment of my life. In my imagination, I stood before Jesus’ judgement seat. His sat upon a white throne atop a white stone cube and the background behind him was all blackness. Jesus did not look at me angrily, but he seemed frustrated and disappointed. And he asked me, “Why didn’t you live your life like I wanted you to live it?

I did not know whether these ideas were coming from God or my own imagination, but either way I knew that I would not be a man of integrity if I just kicked this question down the road for the rest of my life. While still needing to use the bathroom, I felt a sense of urgency to face this valid question. I stood there thinking, ‘How would I answer this question in my own defense?’ I replied, ‘Well Lord, I wasn’t even sure that you were really, really real. How could you expect me to dedicate my life to you while being so uncertain? I wouldn’t stand out on an extending cliff-ledge if I wasn’t sure that it could hold up my weight. And what if I were commit my entire life to you and die and you’re not real, what would I have?

Once I had presented my best case, Jesus immediately replied, “Did you ever really try to find out (if I was real)? Did you even read my book?” That last line made me laugh a bit even as it convicted me. I realized that if I were really looking for the truth I would be searching for answers more seriously than I was. After that I started reading the Bible and praying every night, and began earnestly learning more about our Catholic Faith.

When I eventually read the Book of Revelation at the end of the Bible, I found there a description of the Last Judgment. St. John wrote: “I saw a large white throne and the one who was sitting on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence and there was no place for them. I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls.” A large white throne shrouded in darkness while the dead stand before him to be judged according to their deeds matches what I saw in my vision – a vision that has led to me standing here to tell you this story today.

And our Lord is still actively doing things among us today. Currently, according to our latest figures, St. Paul’s has well-surpassed $500,000 in pledges for our capital campaign, and things throughout this renovation effort have been going so providentially that I have a peaceful confidence that the Lord is helping us succeed.

What great things has the Lord done in your life? How has he been working with you recently? He is in you and you are in him. Know your stories and have the minimal courage to share with others what the Lord has done for you. Praying for the conversion of souls is important, but bearing witness to them is important too. Sharing your stories, sharing the reasons for your Christian hope, will be more effective than nagging or silence. Do not hide what God has done for you under bushel baskets. Instead, share your highlights with others.