Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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Sixth Sunday of Easter 2007
May 13, 2007 – Year: C
Acts 15:1-2, 22-9; Rev. 21:10-4, 22-3; Jn. 14:23-9

The Holy Spirit, the Human spirit and the Christian spirit.

First Reading...
"Certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders.

Then the apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church, decided to choose men from among their members and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers, with the following letter:

'The brothers, both the apostles and the elders, to the believers of Gentile origin in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia, greetings. Since we have heard that certain persons who have gone out from us, though with no instructions from us, have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds, we have decided unanimously to choose representatives and send them to you, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who themselves will tell you the same things by word of mouth.'

'For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood and from what is strangled, and from fornication. If you keep yourselves form these, you will do well. Farewell." [Acts 15;1-2, 22-9]

Second Reading...
"In the spirit the angel carried me away to a great mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It has the glory of God and a radiance like a very rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal.

It has a great, high wall with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites; on the east there were three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb." [Rev. 21:10-4, 22-3]

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.

I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.'" [Jn. 14:23-9]

Helpful Story:
A young man was getting ready to graduate college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer’s showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.

As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son, and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.

Curious, but somewhat disappointed the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible. Angrily, he raised his voice at his father and said, “With all your money you give me a Bible?” and stormed out of the house, leaving the holy book.

Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business.  He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day. Before he could make arrangements, he received a telegram telling him his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care of things. When he arrived at his father’s house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart.

He began to search his father’s important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he read those words, a car key dropped from an envelope taped behind the Bible. It had a tag with the dealer’s name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired. On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words...PAID IN FULL.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not   packaged as we expected?

Another Story maybe helpful:
In Church, when the priest had gone for lunch, the statue of the Lord and the Stepping Stone were conversing.

Stepping Stone: “What a good fate you have. We both were the same  lump of rock for millions of years. The sculptor carved an statue out of you and every one is worshipping you and lighting candles. And look at me, I am a stepping stone and every one stands on me and stamps on. What kind of life is this?“

The statue kept smiling and never bothered to answer this, now, routine murmur from the stepping stone. But the stepping stone (stone used as a step, that is) will never stop his constant bickering.

One day the statue broke silence and replied: “But do you remember that when the sculptor set out to carve a statue, it was you he chose, first. You were so impatient. In one strike, you broke in to two. But when he tried on me, I grinned and bore all the hammers and chisel strikes with PATIENCE. Here I am the worshipful and happy to be here and you are the Stepping Stone ….“

The difference between success and failure is patience and persistence. Remember the gifts and graces just don’t come. They come to us the way we prepare ourselves… 

Gospel Reflections: (Try to link your homily it to the stories above) 

Make the homily interesting trying to find situations around you, among the people and try to create your own anecdotes.

During the Gospel Reading, you may have perceived the Christian unity in those who obeyed the command of Jesus. The command of Jesus was, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." [Jn. 14:23] Those who love Jesus, they are of one spiritual mind with the others who also obey the command of the Lord.

When considering our presence here today, it is a sign of our Christian spirit. United in one Faith in the Lord Jesus, we are gathered here to adore and worship our Lord, our God. In the Catholic spirit, we are united to receive the blessings that are bestowed upon those who receive the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that is the Living Bread.

How many of us come just to fulfill this obligation? Or how many of us come to get things from the Lord? Or how many of us are really convinced that the Lord is ready to give us the biggest gift of life – PEACE?

The second common factor that is found in all of today's three readings is that we are called to do all things in the spirit. Jesus said, "The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." [Jn. 4:23-4]

What does it mean to do all things in the spirit or to worship in spirit? It means that when we received the Sacrament of Baptism, just as Jesus was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, within us, a new creation was raised from death to walk the new life that was received through Christ. [Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12] (628) Without the Sacrament of Baptism through water and Spirit, we could not enter the Kingdom of God. [Jn. 3:5] The greatest gift is love and life in the Lord Jesus

This gift of God, instituted through Jesus Christ in the New Covenant, fulfills the promises of the Old Testament. During the Sacrament of Baptism, we received a new heart and a new human spirit. [Ezek. 11:19-20; 18:31] Through our new heart, we have become children of light. We have been blessed with a spiritual mind that enables us to worship God in spirit and in truth.

During today's First Reading, we can perceive how Paul, Barnabas, Barsabbas, Silas, the apostles and the elders answered their call to do all things in the spirit. Embracing a spiritual mind, these followers of Jesus placed the Divine Will of God first. They faithfully served the Lord for the common good of all. By subjecting themselves to the authority of the Church, they sacrificed their personal opinions on the subject of circumcision.

This is an exemplary model for those who cling on to mixed feelings regarding abortion, birth control, cloning, euthanasia, female priesthood, etc... By accepting the final decision of the Holy Catholic Church, one finds peace of mind. Through peace of mind, one can answer his calling to do all things in the spirit as a new creation of God.

During today's Gospel Reading, we heard Jesus say, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid." [Jn. 14:27] When we do not do all things in the spirit, our hearts are troubled. We are afraid because deep inside we know that we are in disobedience and the Wrath of God is pending. We are afraid because the Spirit of Christ talks to us in our hearts and reminds us that we are not walking in the spirit. The peace of Christ comes to us when we obediently submit ourselves to God's Divine Will through the authority of the Church. Then, we are blessed with Divine peace; we are no longer troubled or afraid. The mixed feelings that we once had, they have faded away.

The third common factor that is found in all three of today's readings is that we are called to walk with the Spirit of Christ. When we walk with the Spirit of Christ, we shine in the fruit of the Spirit. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." [Gal. 5:22-3]

Those who walk with the Spirit of Christ, they are led by the Spirit. When the apostles and the elders reviewed the issue of circumcision that Paul and Barnabas had brought before them, such was done under the guidance and leadership of the Holy Spirit. This truth is affirmed in the content of the response that the Church authority sent to Antioch, Syria and Cilicia. The reply from Jerusalem began with the words, "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." In other words, they were walking in the Spirit of Christ, proclaiming spiritual wisdom that had been made known to them through the Holy Spirit.

During the reading from the Gospel of John, Jesus made reference to the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father would send in His Name. Such was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost [Acts 2:1] when the Lord Jesus breath the Holy Spirit upon His disciples. [Jn. 20:22; Acts 2:2-4] At that moment, the official ministry of the Holy Spirit had its beginning on earth.

In making known to us the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is twofold. The first goal is to build up the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Visible in nature with its seat in Rome, its invisible reflection is the holy city with its seat in Jerusalem where the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church had its beginning. The unity of the two form the mystical Body of Christ, the Church also being known as the Bride of Christ. The second goal is to sanctify us in Christ so we may be purified and transformed in the likeness of Jesus.

Today's Second Reading from the Book of Revelation spoke of the holy city that is being built by the Holy Spirit for the "glory of God." [Rev. 21:11] Year after year, as the saints are added to it membership by the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, the holy city progressively experiences growth. This growth shall continue until such time as God determines in His infinite Wisdom that the fullness of the spiritual Jerusalem has been achieved.

In consideration of all what has been said until now, in the Christian spirit, we are called to do all things in the spirit with the Spirit of Christ. The three applications of the word "spirit" cannot be separated. It is by the power of the Spirit of Christ that we received our new creation, that we are being transformed into holy beings and that we are being moved to imitate the love of Christ towards our Christian brothers and sisters. Without the Spirit of Christ, we would be spiritually dead.

Through the same Holy Spirit, we are drawn towards Jesus in the unity of the Christian spirit. Through the same Holy Spirit, we are sanctified in the likeness of Christ. Through the same Holy Spirit, the works of God are manifested through our humble persons who are subjected to Christ in obedience and humility.

My brothers and sisters, this week, let us reflect upon these three things. When we do, let us remember the words, "He, me and us."

"He" is the "Holy Spirit" through who all spiritual things become viable.

"Me" is my newly created "human spirit" that is moved by the Holy Spirit for the good of the whole Church. "Us," by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the blooming "Christian spirit" that embraces the unity of the many human spirits who have answered their calling.

Once a lady in our parish told me that there is going to be a prayer session and the Holy Spirit would come powerfully on all. So please attend the meeting. Well, I said, I would, if I had time. Then she told me that the time we give to God is the time we gain. If I were to come, I would certainly witness miracles. Then I said to her, I witness miracles everyday when I see people with problems and they are consoled with the word of God I speak to them. The Spirit is alive everywhere and anywhere. Only you need to tune your spirit to God’s Spirit. Well, hearing this, the lady went away, may be she didn’t like the way I spoke to her about the Holy Spirit and his power present every where.

How many times do we miss God’s blessings because they are not   packaged as we expected? 

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