Homily by Father Joseph Wamala for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2020

Today the Scripture readings help us to prepare for the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day, which we will celebrate in two weeks’ time. And so, let us begin our preparation by looking at how the Holy Spirit is influencing our lives as Christians.

The Spirit of truth whom Jesus promised to the Apostles is the Holy Spirit who guides us in the absence of the physical presence of Jesus. The same Spirit who played a significant role in the creation of the world, in the birth of Jesus, and in the birth of the Church also plays a significant role in the birth of every Christian in and through baptism. The same Spirit strengthens us in Confirmation and helps us to become soldiers of Christ who follow His commandments.

In the 1st reading we see how Philip evidenced what it means to love Jesus through his ministry in Samaria. He did not just proclaim Jesus as Messiah but expressed his faith through his witness of life and all who saw and heard him believed. The Holy Spirit who had been poured over Philip, helped him imitate Jesus who perfectly accomplished the will of His Father in heaven.

St. Peter in the 2nd reading reminds us that loving Jesus begins by sanctifying Christ as Lord in our hearts. In this way we shall be ready to answer anyone who desires to know the reasons for our hope in Christ. This is possible due to the action of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to become bold witnesses and evangelizers who are not afraid of any form of persecution.

In today’s gospel, Jesus promises not to leave us as orphans but to send us the Holy Spirit who will teach us how to love Him as we keep His commandments. So then, why do we obey the commandments? Do we do it out of fear of punishment? Do we do it out of hope for reward? Or do we do it more out of love for Jesus? Supposing the reward of heaven was taken away and the punishment of hell too, would you still follow the commandments?

A religion based solely on fear of punishment or the hope of a reward will tend to seek the easy way out. We have heard people say for example; “How far can I go with this before I sin? How much can I steal before I sin gravely? How little can I give and still satisfy my Christian obligation of being charitable?”

On the other hand, a religion based on love of God seeks opportunities. For example, we hear people say; “What more can I do to help? Is there anything you need? Do not hesitate to call me at any time. Love seeks only to be of service.

Let us take a look at one of Jesus’ commands; the command to forgive others which can be seen in three different ways: as a restriction to our freedom and that is something we hate to do; or as a guide to our growth and that is something we should do; or as an invitation to love and that would be something we want to do. Jesus’ proposal is in line with the third option. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” It is an invitation.

How have we looked upon Jesus’ commands in the past? How shall we look upon them in the future? What can we do about them now? This is the challenge today’s gospel sets before each one of us. Jesus presents His commandments as opportunities to express our love for Him.

May we pray in this sacrifice of Mass, that we may be renewed in hope and refreshed in the Holy Spirit who invites us to follow God’s commandments everyday out of love. Then we shall become true witnesses to the resurrection who will nourish the world with spiritual gifts. Amen.