Sunday, April 27, 2008


Homily for the sixth Sunday of Easter - Year A
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 - 1 Pt 3:15-18 - Jn 14:15-21
by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen

Life in the Spirit

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Acts 8:5, Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and proclaimed to
them the Christ. 6, And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to
what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs which
he did. 7, For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed,
crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were
healed. 8, So there was much joy in that city. 14, Now when the
apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of
God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15, who came down and prayed
for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16, for it had not
yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the
name of the Lord Jesus. 17, Then they laid their hands on them and
they received the Holy Spirit.

Shortly after Pentecost, the Apostles chose coworkers for themselves
by instituting deacons "to serve tables" (Acts 6:2). We spoke about
this last Sunday. But this is but one aspect of the function of the
deacon. Like all ministers of the Lord, and moreover like all the
faithful (although in a different way), the deacon is destined,
through his ministry, to proclaim the Word of God: in the holy
liturgy, he proclaims the gospel of the Lord, and he may be called to
preach and to teach the People of God. As Saint Luke says in the Acts
of the Apostles we read today, the deacon Philip "went down to a city
of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ." (Acts 8:5)

Through the hands of the Apostles, Philip, like his companions who
were chosen along with him, had received the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts
6:6). He had received the "power from on high" (Lk 24:49). He had
received the Gift of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the People
of God. For he who becomes a minister of the Lord receives particular
gifts destined for the sanctification and the salvation of the
faithful who are entrusted to him. This was true of the deacon Philip
who, thanks to the Gift of the Holy Spirit, the "power of the Most
High" (Lk 1:35), performed great miracles, manifest signs of the
coming of the Kingdom of God among men! "And the multitudes with one
accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and
saw the signs which he did. For unclean spirits came out of many who
were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed
or lame were healed." (Acts 8:6-7)

Every minister of the Lord, and thus every deacon, is also a believer
among believers. So, in the measure that he is attentive to the Gift
of God he received for his ministry, the deacon, and every minister
of the Lord, can benefit from this Gift himself. Let us recall what
Saint Paul says to Timothy: "I remind you to rekindle the gift of God
that is within you through the laying on of my hands." (2 Tim 1:6;
cf. 1 Tim 4:14) Moreover, the Apostles did not choose the deacons at
random. Far from it! They chose the deacons on the basis of their
life in the Holy Spirit: "Brethren, pick out from among you seven men
of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom." (Acts 6:3) And it
is said of Stephen, the first of the martyrs of the New Covenant,
that he was "a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 6:5).
Whether ministers or believers, all are called to live in the Spirit!

1 Pt 3:15-18

1 Pt 3:14, Have no fear of [those who would harm you], nor be
troubled, 15, but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be
prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for
the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16,
and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those
who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17, For
it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will,
than for doing wrong. 18, For Christ also died for sins once 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.

Saint Peter, in today's second reading, reassures us, saying: "Have no
fear of those who would harm you, nor be troubled." (1 Pt 3:15) Saint
Peter reassures us, for the Holy Spirit is there, he dwells in us, he
is there to defend us! If we take care to live in sanctity, having a
"clear conscience" (1 Pt 3:16), and being ever conscious of our
destiny, which is eternal Life, then, we will not fear the threats of
men and we will not be troubled! If we are always ready to witness to
our hope in Eternal life, then He who prays in us and who already
begins to satisfy this blessed hope, He whom Jesus left as our
Defender, the Holy Spirit, will make us as firm and solid as the
Rock, who is Christ! Let us live in the Holy Spirit!

Jn 14:15-21

Jn 14:15, Jesus said to his disciples, «If you love me, you will keep
my commandments. 16, And I will pray the Father, and he will give you
another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17, even the Spirit of
truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor
knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
18, I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19, Yet a
little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me;
because I live, you will live also. 20, In that day you will know
that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21, He who has
my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who
loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest
myself to him.»

These words of Jesus in this Sunday's gospel are taken from the
discourse of the Master during the last Passover meal. Jesus invites
his disciples, and us, to live in Love, which is nothing other than
the Holy Spirit. This Love, which is God, is a Gift-Love, a Love that
gives itself. The Holy Spirit gives himself to us, in Jesus, in order
that we too might give ourselves to the Father, in Jesus, through
Mary! How could we hesitate to give ourselves wholly to God? The Lord
waits for us! The Lord expects us to play an active part in the
Mission of the Church, notably by consecrating ourselves to his
service as ordained ministers, in Love!

Jesus has done everything for us, for me! What would I do for Christ?
Let us ask the Most Blessed Virgin Mary to help us understand how
great God's Love is!

Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen

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