Easter 6 – Year A – Being Steadfast

Title:Easter 6 – Year A – Being Steadfast

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2. Sermon
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4. Readings


The next 4 Sundays are formally named – Rogation, Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity.

Rogation” means “asking”. In the agrarian culture of yesterday, it was common for the church to gather on the Rogation Days to ask God to bless the crops being sown. We would have asked Him to send rain and to bless us with a good harvest later in the year. A common feature of Rogation days in former times was the ceremony of beating the bounds, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister, churchwarden, and choirboys, would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.

We call this Sunday “Rogation Sunday” because the 3 days which follow it are ancient Rogation Days, these being the 3 days leading up to the great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, this year on May 29. Rogations Days have been a part of the Christian year from early days. There used to be both a Major Rogation (April 25) and 3 Minor Rogation Days (the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday proceeding Ascension Day). Thus originally, this Sunday was not a Rogation Day – the change being made in 1662, after the Major Rogation had dropped away. Rogation days are days of prayerful supplication before God. Today Rogation can be made into a study of the environment and how we can improve it.

In the coming days the Church celebrates two great festivals: Ascension and Pentecost

The Bible readings reflect on the two facts:
– The Ascension : with the farewell speech.
– Pentecost : with the promise of the Holy Spirit …
and the laying on of the apostles’ hands.

The Liturgy shows us that God is present in his Church,
by the Holy Spirit, even after Jesus’ return to the Father.

Today’s readings encourage us to remain steadfast in our witness to the good news.

The 1st reading narrates the beginning of the Church’s evangelizing mission ,
outside Jerusalem. (At 8.5-8.14-17). Apostles Peter and John are sent to Samaria, to complete the Christian Initiation carried out by Deacon Philip
giving the gift of the Holy Spirit to the newly baptized, through the gesture of laying on of hands.Paul tells the Athenian philosophers about the resurrection.

This passage constitutes the “Samaritan Pentecost”, as well as
the “pagan” Pentecost takes place in the house of the Roman Centurion.
* The episode recalls two truths:
– Baptism is completed by anointing with the oil of Confirmation
and by the laying on of the Bishop’s hands, in the sacrament of Confirmation.
It is the moment when we receive the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.
– For a community to actually constitute itself as a Church,
an isolated and independent acceptance of the Word is not enough,
but she is invited to live her faith in communion with the whole Church.

The reading from 1 Peter urges us to present our faith and hope in Christ, no matter the circumstances. Jesus assures his followers that he will always be with them, loving and empowering them.

1 Peter 3:13-22 explains how Christians should relate to those outside the community. Peter recognizes that those who follow Christ often encounter painful trials, just as Christ did. The Christian’s call in Christ is both the reason and the source of strength to answer evil with good.

Christians are to give an explanation, possibly before formal tribunals but more likely in day-to-day interactions with hostile neighbors, for the hope that characterizes their attitude both in the present and toward the future. The Christian attitude is grounded in Christ’s example.

Bishop Wright has this to say this week about this Sunday’s 1 Peter Reading:

“Think in terms of readiness and response when it comes to following Jesus. St. Peter certainly does. Here is St. Peter’s checklist: “Be eager to do what is right though it may cause you trouble. Sanctify Christ as Lord.” Don’t just believe in him, set him apart, make him your North Star. Let his teaching and example have the last word. Know your hope and have it on the tip of your tongue. Share hope with gentleness. Keep your conscience clear. Do all the good you can and let the chips fall wherever they fall.”

The Gospel is part of Jesus’ farewell speech.It is the testament that the teacher leaves to the Community before leaving. (Jo 14,15-21) The disciples are shaken and sad … Jesus encourages them, declaring that he will not leave them orphans in the world. He goes to the Father, but he will find a way to remain present and to accompany the journey of his disciples.

It is an allusion to his invisible but real back, through the Holy Spirit, who will replace him with the disciples and will always remain with them and with this entity called the Church. It is the possibility of living in intense communion with the Father and the Son, by the Spirit of Truth, which is given to us as the gift of Easter.

For that, authentic love is needed, which is manifested in the observance of the Commandments : “Whoever loves me … keeps my commandments …”

Only those who live this love are able to receive the Holy Spirit.
Love overcomes fear, separation and death …- Jesus speaks of “ MY Commandments …”: It is not about the 10 Commandments, as they already existed in the Old Testament …Shortly before, Jesus summarized all the Law and the Prophets in “Loving God above all things and our neighbor as he loved us”

The passage contains Jesus’ repeated assurances that his death will not leave his disciples “orphaned.” Jesus promises an indwelling presence to those who keep his commandments.

That presence is described in three ways. First, the Father will send “another Advocate” (v. 15), who will remain with believers. The word “Advocate” (Greek, paracletos) may also be translated Counselor or Helper. Second, Jesus himself will come, visibly after the resurrection, invisibly in the Christian community and finally at the second coming. Third, Jesus and the Father are in union and they will dwell with those who love Jesus and obey him (v. 23).

John does not particularly distinguish among these three kinds of presence. As these verses show, the presence of Jesus after his return to the Father is accomplished in and through the Advocate.

The Christian community will then be God’s presence in the world. The
community will become the Abode of God, the space where God comes to meet us.
In and through the community of disciples, God’s saving action in the world takes place.