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I was told that graduation celebrations in Douglas last for about a week or so. Memorial day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. Some folks will be heading out for summer break elsewhere. Others will depart for higher level of studies. Following the commencement exercises, the graduates in particular, will enter into a new phase in life.      


Chapter 14 of the Gospel according to John is commonly described as a farewell discourse. This is the time when Jesus prepares his disciples of his departure from the earth and the company of his disciples and the gradual arrival of the Holy Spirit that has surfaced in the liturgy two weeks in a row. The disciples must have been devastated upon learning of his imminent departure. Stakes are high. It was a precarious situation. And yet, he never missed  to provide them comfort and assurance constantly reminding that it shouldn’t be a reason for the baffled followers to disperse and disintegrate, not even a cause of fear and alarm. When he leaves, the one who’s coming is “the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name”, the Paraclete, the Advocate, the defender, the comforter, the counselor, the intercessor, the mediator, the interpreter, a helper close at hand and a guide, of course. The Holy Spirit will take over. As the advocate, he will help the distressed and the overwhelmed disciples to hold fast and tight to Jesus’ teaching and never allow any bully to tweak or change a divinely revealed doctrine. The paraclete will be the one in-charge of establishing continuity between Jesus’ ministry and the resurrection appearances. Jesus says, the Holy Spirit will “teach you everything and remind you all that I told you.” The paraclete will help them recall everything that Jesus left them behind.  The Spirit will continue to lead them into a greater and deeper encounter with God. As they go through the transition, Jesus once again reassures them, “Peace, I leave with you, my peace I give you, not worldly peace” that’s attained through wars and violence but the strength, the force and the power within bestowed upon them by the risen Christ during the post-resurrection appearances. The peace Jesus brings is the wholeness of being, and the positivity of life (not the easy life spent in luxurious living without regard to the plight of the poor and the struggles of fellow human beings).


The 15th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles significantly stresses the profound influence of the Holy Spirit at a crucial point in the history of the early church. The requirement for membership (of being a Christian) was the first major issue. At this moment of crisis and controversy, they turned to the Holy Spirit to help them with critical decision-making. The apostles heavily relied on the Holy Spirit to lead them in the proper direction. Thus, after listening attentively to each side of the debate, they declared that “it is the decision of the Holy Spirit not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities.” Although intense discussion was the human counterpart, the Holy Spirit made the decision for them.


How can you tell you made a right decision? The peace that Jesus gives, “My peace I give to you” is worthy of mention. Peace appears frequently in the resurrection accounts. The awareness of peace then is Christ’s gift and message to the evolving church. That means, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the center stage and inviting him to surround our meetings in the slow process of making decision brings a deep sense of peace and feeling of joy. I am certain that in the midst of an increasingly unbelieving secular world, when we involve the Holy Spirit and surrender our lives, as the 2nd reading in the book of revelation testifies “the angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain”. Amen. 



Tags: Sixth Sunday of Easter


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