God Is With His People

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.

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