Sixth Sunday of Easter Acts 8: 5-8 & 14-17; 1 Peter 3: 15-18; John 14: 15-21
“Philip went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached.”
The Acts of the Apostles describes the resurrection as a dynamic presence that could not be confined within the borders of the Jerusalem Church. The presence of the Risen Lord would reach not only to the ends of the earth; it would bring down the barriers of misunderstanding and suspicion dividing the peoples.
The Samaritan towns, situated no more than two days walk to the north of Jerusalem, had been cut off from the mainstream of Jewish prayer and worship for many centuries. Eloquence alone could not have accounted for the rejoicing with which Philip’s proclamation of the gospel was received in this estranged township. There can be but one explanation, that Philip, through his own encounter with the Risen Lord, had himself become a manifestation of Christ’s living presence.
In troubled times, and in the humility of faith, may we so live our lives as to become the signs of Christ’s healing presence. In the words of St Peter’s first letter, may we so reverence the Lord in our hearts, that our words and deeds communicate a hope rooted in the presence of Christ.
The Gospel of St John Jesus leads us into a deeply personal understanding of faith. Faith, in all its different aspects, is above all a relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is indeed a creed to be confessed, but beyond this it is a love to be lived.
“If you love me you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, that Spirit of truth that (a sinful) world can never receive. But you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.”
Soon we shall celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, we shall remember the manifestation of Christ’s promised Spirit of truth. In the uncertainty of our days may we surrender our lives to the hope that accompanied that promise.
“On that day you will understand that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him.”
For many Pentecost will come after a prolonged period of social isolation, an isolation that has cruelly demonstrated our need to be held in life-giving communion.
Through the Holy Spirit, and in the power of Christ’s resurrection, may we find healing in the Father’s love.