Sunday Sermon for May 26, 2019, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; Jn 14:23-29
In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells us not to let our hearts be troubled or afraid. It seems to be a rare person today who can actually say they are neither troubled nor afraid. With all that is going on in the world and in the Church, people have lost their sense of peace; they have pulled into themselves and, consequently, they are filled with fear and worry. In essence, people fail to trust God. When we do not trust God, the only one left to trust is our own self; that is reason enough to be worried and afraid.
As we see in the first reading today, problems have always existed in the Church. The Apostles and Elders had to write a letter to the Gentile converts explaining that the people who disturbed the converts were not sent by the Apostles. These people, I assume of good will, taught on their own accord and demanded the male Gentile converts be circumcised. In essence, they understood that Christianity was part of Judaism, therefore, one had to be a convert to Judaism in order to become a Christian.
This obviously caused problems for these new converts, but there was also dissension between these people on one hand and Paul and Barnabas on the other. The question of circumcision caused quite a stir among the leadership in Jerusalem before the grace of the Holy Spirit brought clarity to the issues and the Apostles wrote to the Gentile converts instructing them they did not need to be circumcised in order to become a Christian. This is not something a group of faithful Jewish men could determine on their own; they needed the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit not only in making the decision, but also in understanding it themselves and in teaching it to others.
As we read in the Gospel today, the Holy Spirit was given to the Church to teach her everything and lead her into all truth. We see this truth coming into clarity through the deliberations of the Apostles as they were led by the Holy Spirit. One might conjecture that the people preaching the necessity of circumcision were not very happy with the decision while the Gentile converts were quite pleased, but it is not a question of whether or not we are personally happy with the Church’s teachings, it is a question of whether or not we are willing to be obedient to God.
The Church’s teachings are not always convenient or easy, but there is great peace of mind knowing and living the truth. In the Gospel Jesus said that He and His Father would come to dwell in the heart of whoever loves Him. Then He tells us the one who loves Him is the one who keeps His word. In other words, since love is demonstrated in action, it is not enough to believe everything the Church teaches; we need to put those teachings into action.
Needless to say, this can be very difficult and can cost us a lot. But when we look at the Cross, we see Jesus’ love for us expressed in His actions. So, He taught us by His words what it means to love, but He also taught us by His actions how to love. Now, for those who will love Him by embracing His words and following His example, He promises the Indwelling of the Holy Trinity.
Whatever this kind of faithful discipleship will cost us in this world, we have Jesus’ guarantee that we will never be abandoned (Jn 14:18); in fact, we will be the Temple and dwelling place of God Himself. Moreover, our faithfulness in this world will translate into the next where, as we see in the second reading, we will have access to the Holy City, the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Notice in the description of the city that there is no Temple; rather, God and the Lamb are the Temple. In other words, for those who love the Lord and keep His words, God will enter into them and they will become God’s dwelling place. In Heaven the opposite occurs: those who love the Lord and keep His word will enter into God and dwell in Him as in a Temple. They will be enlightened by the glory of God and the Lamb will shine in them and through them as a lamp.
In a world full of chaos, disturbances, worry, fear, and anxiety, our peace will not come from our own self, but from God Who dwells within. Keep your focus on God, believe His truth and live His love. Then you will become the Temple of the Holy Trinity, filled with the glory of God and shining with the lamp of the Lamb.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.