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THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

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HOMILY OF 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR A

Missing someone very dear or special can be a deeply emotional experience that can leave one feeling empty and longing for his or her presence. It is a feeling that could be triggered by a variety of reasons, such as distance, a breakup, or even death. When we miss people who are special to us, especially those who have contributed positively to our lives, we may find ourselves constantly thinking about them, reminiscing about the memories we shared, and wishing they were there with us. This feeling of missing someone can be overwhelming, which may affect our daily lives, causing us to feel sad, lonely, and even depressed.

However, it is important to note that missing someone is a natural part of the human experience. Are you missing anyone special to you? In this homily, we will explore the prerequisites for receiving the Holy Spirit and what His presence can help us achieve in life.

Jesus’ Farewell Speech and Promise of an Advocate

Having stayed with Jesus Christ for three years and experienced great love and care from Him, the disciples never imagined that they would one day miss Him. They became exasperated and troubled when Jesus Christ told them about His passion, death, and, subsequently, His final departure from the physical world after fulfilling His mission.

In today’s gospel, Jesus Christ envisioned that the disciples would miss Him so much and that three enemies (the flesh, the world, and Satan) would rise up against believers. Hence, He gave them assurance that He would never abandon or leave them as orphans. Thus, He promised to send them another advocate: the Holy Spirit, who will defend them from the enemy and be with them forever so that they will not feel His absence.

The Importance of Love as a Prerequisite for Receiving the Holy Spirit

The readings of today, especially the gospel, are a powerful reminder of the importance of the love of God as a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit. The prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit is that they keep His commandment of love. Jesus says, “He who accepts my commandments and keeps them is he who loves me, and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

Certainly, love is a universal language that holds the power to transform the world. As Christians, we are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. This implies, putting the needs of others before our own and serving our communities with joy and generosity. Also, reaching out to those who are marginalized and forgotten and showing them love.

The Presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church

In the first reading, the people of Samaria experienced the joy of receiving the good news of Christ. They rejoiced that they had come to know the true saviour after receiving deliverance and salvation through the ministry of St. Philip. Consequently, hearing that they had received the word of God gladly, the apostles sent Peter and John to pray for them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. This strengthened their faith and love for God and one another.

Undoubtedly, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church is a foretaste of the eternal happiness and peace that God has destined for us. He is the schoolmaster who educates and enlightens our intellects to know the truth and gives us inner joy and peace (Romans 15:13). He is the one who empowers us to continue to love God and humanity sincerely, despite the challenges. Also, He always stands by our side to protect us from the onslaught of the enemy. That is the reason why we need the Holy Spirit to live a good Christian life and to do things that are normally difficult or even impossible for natural humans (2 Timothy 1:7).

The Holy Spirit helps us to Love God

Obviously, without the Holy Spirit, it would be too difficult, if not impossible, to love God or humanity sincerely, even to lead a virtuous life. He strengthens us so that we do not feel lonely, abandoned, or depressed in times of difficulty, especially when we lose someone very dear to us. He corrects us when we offend God (John 16:18). Of course, the presence of the Holy Spirit engenders love, emotional healing, and restores hope to individuals who are missing someone special in their lives (Ephesians 3:16).

Love as the Foundation of Our Faith

In the second reading, St. Peter enjoins us to be ready to answer our adversaries with a defense of gentleness and reverence. Also, it is better to suffer for doing right, if that is God’s will, than for doing wrong. For Christ also died for sins once and for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:15–18).

Furthermore, he urges us to love one another as Christ has loved us, unconditionally and without reservation. To make love the foundation of our faith, which requires effort and sacrifice from us. This is the consequence of receiving the Holy Spirit. By practicing love in our daily lives, we can bring hope, healing, and joy to those around us and contribute to building a more loving and compassionate world (1 John 4:12-13).

Without Love, Our Faith is Empty and Meaningless

Without love, our faith is empty and meaningless, for love is what gives our faith life and meaning. Our faith calls us to love and serve one another, especially those who are in need (1 John 3:23-24). Oftentimes, we get caught up in our own needs and desires, and we forget to reach out to others. But if we truly love Christ and want to follow Him sincerely, we must make an effort to love one another as He has loved us and forgive our offenders (Matthew 6:14-15). The question is: Do we love Jesus Christ? Are we truly missing Him like His disciples?

Can Prayers and Scripture Reading help us receive the Holy Spirit?

The disciples of Christ waited patiently for the advocate through fervent prayers (Acts 1:12-14). Of course, prayer and scripture reading are important practices for nurturing a spiritual relationship with God and deepening one’s understanding of His word (John 6:63). Although they are not prerequisites in the strict sense for receiving the Holy Spirit, they can create a conducive environment. The Holy Spirit is a gift from God, given to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Furthermore, prayer and scripture reading can help Christians grow in faith and love of God. They can help people seek guidance and develop a deeper relationship with God, making them more receptive to the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44). However, receiving the Holy Spirit is ultimately a result of faith in Jesus Christ and God’s grace. When a person accepts Jesus Christ, repents of his or her sins, receives baptism, and places his or her faith in Him, the person receives the Holy Spirit in God’s own time (Acts 2:38).

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have seen how the emotional experience of missing someone special can affect our daily lives. However, Jesus Christ promises to send the Holy Spirit as an advocate to defend believers from the enemy and be with them forever. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church is a foretaste of eternal happiness and peace. Certainly, His presence will always strengthen us to love God and humanity sincerely. Also, the presence of the Holy Spirit engenders emotional healing and restores hope to individuals who feel lonely, abandoned, depressed, or are missing someone special in their lives.

Moreover, the prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit is keeping Jesus’ commandment of love, since love is the foundation of our faith and holds the power to transform the world. Demonstrating this love means being kind, compassionate, and forgiving towards others, even when it is difficult. It means putting the needs of others before our own and serving our communities with joy and generosity. It means reaching out to those who are marginalized and forgotten and showing them the love and compassion of Jesus.

Prayer

May the Holy Spirit always be present to guide, comfort, and strengthen you, especially when you feel lonely or abandoned. May He empower you and fill your heart with inner joy, peace, and a sincere love for God and one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

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