Keep My Word

My mother told me the first word I uttered was WHY. I suspect that really was an exaggeration. However, I do remember that WHY was a word I used most often. And I remember my mother saying , “Because I said so”.


This has never been a very satisfactory answer for a child; we can imagine a teenager rolling the eyes in response. This answer doesn’t give any explanation for doing what is asked, but simply states a chain of command, a line of authority.

In today’s gospel Jesus’ desire that we keep his words functions something like a “Because I said so.” Extraordinary gifts are given to us if we keep his words. His words rest on the authority of himself, his Father, and the Holy Spirit. This is about as high that a chain of command, a line of authority can get. It all rests on “If you love me.” [Living Liturgy 2013]

To enable us to keep his word, Jesus promises us the gift of the Holy Spirit—through whom we are re-created as persons able to live and love as Jesus himself did. We are a new creation empowered to continue the mission of Jesus in peace and with fearlessness. To be created anew means that we share in the Life of the risen Lord—in a very real way, we share in Jesus’ very identity. Indeed, this is the gift of baptism: that we are made members of the Body of Christ. Only because we share in Jesus’ identity as members of his Body can we love as he does, truly keep his word, and carry on his saving mission.

The word of Jesus we are to keep is his command to love as he loves us. Jesus’ word, however, is not simply spoken—“Because I said so”—but is love-in-action. Our love-in-action flows from the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us and teaching us to keep Jesus’ word-command to love. Our love-in-action is risen Life-made-visible. Jesus’ “Because I said so” is so much more than simply words.

We are able to fulfill Jesus’ word-command to love as he loves because the Holy Spirit dwell­ing within prompts us to total self-giving. The Holy Spirit prompts us, for example, to embrace the sick and the suffering, to be present to those in need, to ease the troubled heart, to bring peace in the midst of anxiety, to rejoice at the success of others, to believe in the goodness of others. As Jesus loves, so are we to love. Totally. This is what discipleship demands.

Adapted from PrayerTime, Renew International

Pentecost Sunday

PentecostPentecost! The celebration of… what? Flames on heads? Speaking in tongues? The blessing of the Spirit on individuals?
Although Pentecost was originally a festival celebration of the wheat harvest in ancient Israel, and of the giving of the law which defined Israel as a nation, for Christians it is known as the time when the power of the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, and is sometimes called the birthday of the church. In that sense, Pentecost, which can also refer to the entire 50 days between the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit, is the celebration of the formation of the church as corporate body. Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide his disciples, just before he ascends to heaven, is sealed with the arrival of the Spirit on Pentecost.
The Spirit of God has, of course, been present since the beginning of creation, but the event of Pentecost marks the moment when the Spirit works to mediate the presence of the Risen Christ to the church community.
Pentecost, then, is more about the corporate body of the church than about the spiritual presence of God to individual believers. The Spirit is now available to guide the church in its mission to bring the Gospel to the world.
The effect on the disciples as they receive the Spirit is interesting in this respect. They begin to speak in languages other than their own, with the crowd who gathers hearing the disciples speak in their own language. This is the reversal of what happened with the curse of Babel, which resulted in confusion and lack of understanding between peoples. Rather, at Pentecost, all are made able to understand the message of the Gospel, and are drawn into the church through the power and understanding given by the Spirit.
What should this mean for us today, as a people of the Spirit? By this indwelling of the Spirit, we ourselves become advocates of God’s presence for others. It maybe as simple as a reassuring touch or a helping hand. It might be a sacrifice of time in volunteering for a task that needs to be done for the good of all. In all, we are called to die to ourselves in order to be the true presence of Christ for others.

Who Will Teach Us?

dancing-praiseWe have little problem understanding how love is an action. We can see love: the care parents give children, the care adult children give their elderly parents, the generosity of youth in responding to disasters, the goodness of volunteers who keep many good programs viable. These are observable if we but open our eyes to see.
Yet we rarely think of believing as an action. Yet it is. Believing is as concrete and visible an action as love.

In our Gospel, Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit who will teach us everything. The holy Spirit does not teach us what to believe but to believe. To believe means to live out of the divine indwelling, to live out of the peace given, to live out of the mutual exchange of love between God and us and each other. Believing is living what the Spirit teaches us. Believing is an action that marries love with presence.

The peace we receive is not an absence of strife or contention, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. Such love God gives us. We need not be troubled. We only need to love in return. Here is what is wholly new-God wells within us! This union between God and humanity is made possible by Jesus’ farewell gift- the ‘Holy Spirit.