Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17
Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 3:15-18
Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
We are moving into the period looking towards the Ascension and towards the coming of the Holy Spirit—Pentecost. To love someone is to listen to the person and to respond to the needs of the person and follow that person’s word. We can understand how important this is, even at the level of human love. If we say that we love another human being, it has to mean more than just having some feeling of attraction for that person. We must become committed to the person, seeking to understand the person and do what is best for the person. The feeling of loving another person is often more just about ourselves than about the other person. True love focuses on the other person and responds to the other person.
The Acts of the Apostles in today’s first readings helps us understand that people were really changed in their actions, not just in their feelings. The Holy Spirit comes almost as a bond between the changed actions and the feelings of the person. Unless the feelings are accompanied by changed actions, then the feelings remain only feelings and not the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The First Letter of Saint Peter, from which is taken our second reading today speaks about how much better it is to suffer for doing good rather than to suffer for doing evil. This is a clear reference to suffering for the sake of following the way of the Lord Jesus. Anyone who seriously follows Jesus will soon know that this following will lead to some rejection by others, to people making fun of us for taking religious too seriously, to having to separate ourselves from any actions or words that are not in accord with the teachings of our Lord or of His Church.
The reading from John’s Gospel today simply reminds us that following Jesus means being faithful to His word, to His teaching and to His example. Once we begin to follow Him and learn that at times we will be rejected or made fun of by others, we have the choice to continue with Him or to take another path.
We are invited to love Jesus today and to listen to His word and to put His word into action in our lives. It is the Advocate that can help us do this. Come, Holy Spirit!