May 17, 2020 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
ACTS 8:5-8, 14-17; PS 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 PT 3:15-18; JN 14:15-21
On this sixth Sunday of Easter, our readings remind us Christian stewards of the importance and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. They also teach us that love of God shows itself in concrete actions — this is precisely why the stewardship way of life is so necessary.
Throughout the Easter season, our first readings, taken from the Act of the Apostles, have recounted the growth (and growing pains) of the early days of the Church. Today we read that the Samaritans had accepted the word of God, and while there was great rejoicing over this, they were still in need of more before they were fully empowered disciples. So, Peter and John “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.” Peter and John “laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.” The “more” that these new Christians needed, was, of course, the Holy Spirit.
We, too, need and have received the Holy Spirit in our lives, initially at our Baptism, and in full measure at the moment of our Confirmation. The gifts and guidance of the Holy Spirit are essential to the Christian steward and the stewardship way of life. Today is a great opportunity, especially as we draw nearer to Pentecost, to begin to examine our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Do we make full use of all of the grace and power the Holy Spirit has for us in meeting the challenges of life?
Our second reading, from St. Peter, is certainly filled with challenges for us, beginning with the first verse, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” In other words, we must put Christ first above all else in our lives. His role is not merely as Savior of our lives, as significant as that role is; He is to be “Lord” of our lives as well. As His disciples, we are called to make Him ruler of all aspects of our lives — our time, talents and treasure.
The beauty of the stewardship way of life is that it offers us a concrete means to show that Christ truly is Lord in our lives, to “prove” our love, in a manner of speaking, because true love is not mere sentiment. “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me,” Jesus tells us in our Gospel passage from John.
True love is an act of the will. It requires obedience to all of God’s commandments. This requires courage, humility and deep trust in Him. It requires that we lean on the Holy Spirit for the strength and wisdom to continuously make Jesus the Lord of our lives.
But the rewards are indescribably wonderful. Christ tells us Himself, “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” Could there be anything more satisfying to live in such a way that the God of the universe is pleased to reveal more and more of Himself to us?
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us fully embrace the stewardship way of life so as to truly sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.