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Pastors Corner: "Love" the great reveal of the Holy Spirit

 

Last updated 5/15/2020 at 7:37am



Reading 1: Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17

Reading 2: 1 Peter 3: 15-18

Gospel: John 14:15-21

In the Roman Catholic faith tradition, the scripture readings above are the readings for this Sunday. In the Gospel reading verse 15 Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Then in verse 21 Jesus says: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”

It seems to me we might have a problem brewing here. WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO KEEP THEM! We have failed to keep the commandments repeatedly since they were given to us. I wonder, did Jesus forget who he was talking to?

Maybe we can look at the life of the author of 1 Peter to help us try to understand how to love Jesus and keep the commandments. Do you remember how Peter denied Jesus three times during his passion? It seems to me that would not qualify as keeping the commandments or loving. How is it then that Peter is the rock our church is built on if he couldn’t love Jesus or keep the commandments?

There was an event that took place after Jesus’ resurrection that can help us understand how it is that Peter can reconcile with Jesus. Peter and six of the 12 were fishing and Jesus appeared to them on shore. When Peter realized who Jesus was, he jumped off the boat and into the water (could this relate to a kind of baptism) and swam to shore. When he and the others got to shore Jesus prepared a meal for them and ate with them. After the meal Jesus had a conversation with Peter. During that conversation Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him and each time Peter replied that he loved Jesus. When this meeting is compared to the three denials one can see that the verification of love of Jesus can bring about reconciliation in Peter’s relationship with Jesus. I believe it is important to point out that Jesus did not need to hear this affirmation of love Peter did.

There is also another event in the life of Peter that we must look at and that is the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is this gift of the Holy Spirit that empowers Peter to give an explanation to anyone who asks the reason for his hope, 1 Peter 3:15. This is the same Holy Spirit that strengthened Philip to proclaim Christ to the Samarian’s in Acts 8:5. It is the same Holy Spirit Peter and John brought with them to the people of Samaria with the imposition of their hands and prayer. It is the same Holy Spirit acting in the Body of Christ today.

This then is how we can love Jesus and keep his commandments. The Holy Spirit that we receive when we are reconciled to Jesus in Baptism empowers us to recognize our sinfulness and turn to Jesus with contrite hearts and express our love for him. When we do this we are then empowered in every situation of our lives to turn to Jesus and tell him we love him.

To believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in everyone means realizing that he seeks to penetrate every human situation and all social bonds: ‘The Holy Spirit can be said to possess an infinite creativity, proper to the divine mind, which knows how to loosen the knots of human affairs, even the most complex and inscrutable.’ (from St. John Paul II)

Evangelium Gaudium, 178.

——

Deacon Tim Maroney

St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church

 

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