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LIVING THE FAITH. A reflection for 6th Sunday of Easter, Year A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 17 May 2020

                        Readings: Acts 8:5-8,14-17; 1Pt 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21.

      On this last Sunday before the Ascension, the first reading recounts the initial apostolic proclamation of the Christ to the Samaritans, and the Gospel reiterates the assurances from Jesus to his followers. The “Advocate,” named here, is Jesus’ assurance to believers for carrying out the kind of bold missionary witness carried out in Samaria. The same Advocate, a divine Person whom today’s Gospel further reveals as both “the Holy Spirit”  and “that Spirit of truth,” is manifesting in the conversion experience of the so-called foreigners.

      In the second reading, we also learn from Peter’s exhortation that when Christians can give a ready answer about their faith, an answer given with courtesy, respect, and a clear conscience, this, too, is the work of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of truth. Every attention is now directed to the Holy Spirit, because in the words, actions, or deeds inspired by the Spirit of God, God reveals God’s self. Notice also that there are false, weird, shrieky, cunning, and, therefore, “unclean spirits,” readily available in the world. The reason for the work of the gospel mission is to profess Jesus and live by the Spirit of Jesus whom we received

      By providing answers about the genuine power of Christ in our lives, we become good news even with no Bibles in our hands. Philip, for example, had no book at hand to quote for the people, and fresh as the news of Jesus was at Philip’s time, Samaria was outside of Jerusalem. In other words, what a secular world does not have, can be proven or made visible in us who believe by the testimony of our real lives. The correct proclamation of  Jesus Christ may not need to begin as a crowd thing, even when it can end up drawing hundreds of people. Jesus himself has a pattern of sending out his disciples two by two persons to whole towns and villages. Following Jesus’ death and resurrection, a similar design of a humble beginning and personal example was the pattern of the apostolate by the first Christian communities.

     One of the pertinent questions raised today is: How can I become a Philip, Peter, or John to those who today have either turned away from their Christian faith or are being pulled here and there by secular ideologies? The scarcity of membership in the early years was real; the first Christian communities also faced sporadic persecutions unleashed against them. The misguided political powers and religious authorities who were desperate to erase Jesus’ Gospel made the Christian apostolic work so unbearable for the believers. For example, Philip went alone to Samaria because of the “scattering” (Act 8:4) that followed the killing of Stephen. Yet, the “majority” (Jn 14:23), which Jesus promises to the one or two believing persons, stayed with Philip. He, as an individual, took an entire town of Samaria in faith for Christ.

      One can also ask the question: What is my answer today as a response to the questions about my Christian faith and hopes?  Can I genuinely explain the belief that I claim to have in Jesus, or attempt to defend it? I mean, can one defend what one doubts? This inquiry is becoming increasingly important in our time. Jesus is not about the countless collectives that the Church used to have. For interpreting the Gospel in the light of present realities, Jesus is about the disciple as the person bound by a more visible faith in Jesus. There were times when we presumed a person’s confession from the faith of one’s parents and guardians. But times have changed now. Today’s context seeks for a new reason for the conditional pronoun, “If you love me.” It demands a fresh reader-response cum self-criticism. Then, it cross-checks with examples.

      Precisely because, today, the “if you love me” of Jesus moves more deeply in its reality, it can only blossom in a new form of the common application. Jesus talks about, “I shall ask the Father,”  he also says, “the Father will love him (the specific person).” Jesus concludes with, “we shall come to him and make our home with him” (Jn 14:23). It is the “whoever” who loves me that matters for Jesus. Therefore, it is all the more urgent that the person cultivates a living, personal commitment of faith in Jesus, and stands up for what one believes to be true.




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