May 20, 2017

Sixth Week of Easter - Time to upgrade!

John 14:15-23

Our smart phone seems to be that device we hold onto, keeping it close. It has become a necessary conduit to keep our connection open with family, friends and colleagues. When we do not see them, we do not want to loose touch. Even when they are miles away, even overseas, we go to great lengths to secure we are still, in some way connected.

To bring home this point, if you have ever lost your phone containing all your contacts, or forgotten your password or log in details, it can sometimes produce much anxiety and even panic! Even though you might have access to another phone, maybe a landline, it is often difficult to immediately recall someone's exact number. Scurrying around for lost scraps of paper is terrifying and searching for a 2000 page telephone directory is, for the most part, a thing of the past.

In the same way as our deep and intimate relationships with family and friends evolve first through our physical presence and personal encounters, so does our relationship with Christ. However, our connection with Him does not depend on having His private number, an access code or password which can easily be forgotten or lost.

This was, no doubt, a difficult lesson for the first disciples.  With His death, they feared they had lost Him for good. They were stuck. They didn't know how to go forward without Him. Christ had been so much a part of their lives. Up until His arrest and crucifixion, they had shared so much of His life.  For three days, they were without any connection. The whole world for them had crashed. Until on Easter morning, He stood before them and all was made new again. New again, but not the same!

From His wounded but Resurrected body, He shared with them the invitation to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness. They had to accept this personally. Tired, exhausted, hungry and drained, they needed to experience the upload of God's mercy and forgiveness in their own lives.  For the most part, they had abandoned their master to his death on the cross. They experienced the darkness of isolation.  But now the disciples, having restored their friendship with Christ during these forty days after his resurrection, they would have to get ready to proclaim with their very lives, a restoration - an unbreakable connection, the unique and divine power of God's mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation to the whole world.

As wonderful as this was, it was also much to take in. But Christ would now be soon returning to His place in heaven. We will commemorate that event next week.  His disciples, so used to seeing him, listening to His voice, holding on to Him and feeling safe in His presence, would now have to find the strength and confidence to take His place before the world, to be themselves the visible point of reference – to be a living and credible witness of Christ to the whole world.  It was easy to hide behind Him while we walked before them. Now Christ, who would be ascending to His heavenly Father, did not assure His disciples had He would call them every so often, or drop them a note. Instead, He would be presence through, with and in them - He is our soul's SIM card that can never be lost, activated by His promise to send us the Holy Spirit.

Even though Jesus is now beyond our sight and touch, the Holy Spirit, which He has sent to us for our comfort, surrounds us, touches our souls, gives eternal meaning to all our relationships, sends our prayers to heaven and assures us that Christ is always near even when we do not see Him.

In this Holy Mass Christ's Holy Spirit penetrates through every fiber of our offering of bread and wine, changing them at their most deepest reality into the new reality of the Risen Lord of heaven and earth. What we see before us is only the sign, the signal. The reality is that Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth stands before us.

Even though we may sin and fail in our Christian discipleship by losing His number, forgetting your password or deleting His details, all is restored through the sacraments. It's as simple as handing ourselves over to His mercy and reinstalling His love in our hearts. This is how we re-enkindle and hold onto our deep and intimate friendship with the Lord despite getting lost in the crazy world or when we feel cut off from everyone, even at times, from God.

We must always ask the help of the Holy Spirit to reawaken our soul and keep our heart always searching for a deeper friendship with Christ, who will never forget or abandon His friends who call His name.

"For the Only Begotten God Himself, desired no difference to be felt between Himself and the Holy Spirit in the faith of believers and in the efficacy of his Works because there is no diversity in their nature". St. Leo the Great, Letter 16.4

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