The Sixth Sunday of Easter, 2021

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God!”

Image by Annie Spratt from Pixabay

Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!
Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

The Scripture above reminds us of who we are. In the first place, we exist because God is love. He has loved us into being and His love holds us in being. His plan for every human being is that we should live with Him forever, embraced by the infinite love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We also know that the tragic dimension of our free will is that we can freely choose to thwart that love, to turn away from our destiny, and to make choices that, if unrepented, can tragically separate us from Him forever. Why would we do that? Why would we turn our backs on His love?

All of us who have experienced sin in our lives know that, at the time, we can delude ourselves into thinking that that is not what we are doing, as we yield to some temptation. But we are far less likely to turn away from Him and His love if we keep our eyes fixed on Him. Unfortunately, at the time, something else attracts our attention and we forget who we are and we turn, spurning that love. That’s why the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, knowing our weakness, knowing our tendency toward sin, has built into the very fabric of His Church a gift of mercy to enable us to be re-stored: the Sacrament of Confession. It cleanses our souls and restores us to that baptismal innocence that once was ours.

But He also places in the heart of His Church the grace and power of His Holy Spirit that we may have the strength to say “no” to the temptation, if we only choose to avail ourselves of that strength. That Spirit is first given to us at our Baptism. It is greatly strengthened when we, having been promised to Him by others at our Baptism, then choose Him now for ourselves, giving Him our “yes” and then receiving the great Sacrament of Confirmation. It was recently our great joy as a parish to witness so many of our younger brothers and sisters receive this great Sacrament. Walking with the Bishop, holding the Sacred Chrism for him, as he went from teen to teen administering the Sacrament, is always a great joy for me, as I witness the gift of the Holy Spirit being given in greater measure to these ones whom the Lord Jesus loves so much.

But we also know that the gift of the Spirit in our lives is not meant to be just a one-time event. Each year the Church gives us the great Solemnity of Pentecost, not only to remind us of the gift of the Spirit to the Church in the past, but to be an opportunity for each of us to receive a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives today:  a fresh gift, a new anointing, more of His grace and power to sustain us! If we seem to be walking in a period of darkness and confusion, the light of the fire of Pentecost is meant to be for us a light that shines in that darkness, a light the darkness cannot overcome. Even as we face the choice mentioned above–the choice to yield to the temptation or to resist the temptation–so too we are faced with a choice to yield to more of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives or to walk in our own powerlessness.

At the beginning of our lives we were powerless, in great need. The King of Kings gave us our mothers, who were uniquely able to meet that need. Our first experience of love often came to us through their gift.

Now we can find ourselves also in need, as the onslaughts of the world, the flesh, and the devil try to rob us of our identity, of who we are. Again the King of Kings has given us a remedy, lovingly placing us in the care of the Church, who is also mother to us, and making available to us again the fire of Pentecost, that the Spirit may both empower us to fight the darkness but also lead us into all truth, that we may walk securely on the path the King has laid out before us. Now we have the choice to earnestly pursue the fire of the Spirit, that we may truly live for the King! Even so, come, Lord Jesus, send Your Spirit!–Fr. Ed Fride