New life with the Spirit

14 May, 2023 6th Sunday Easter Year A

Today’s readings prepare us for Ascension Sunday next week, as they instruct Christians on how to live in the world while we wait for Christ’s return. Although Jesus’ defeat of death has forever transformed what it means to be human, we live in this waiting period where salvation has already been won for us, but not yet fulfilled.


Jesus comforts all Christians by promising us that, although we cannot see him face to face, we will know that “I am in my Father, and you are in me and I in you.” And in today’s readings, we see that Jesus will fulfil this promise by sending the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Holy Spirit inaugurates a new way of living for Christians that Paul elsewhere describes as the ‘new life in the Spirit’.


The first reading reveals the joy that this new way of living can bring. Reading from Acts, we see the power of the Holy Spirit setting the people of Samaria free from suffering and disease and coming to dwell with them permanently.


And as Peter tells us in the second reading, the new life in the Spirit continues even when we need to persevere in our faith through trials. When proclaiming Christ is received with rejection rather than joy, the Holy Spirit is still just as present as ever. Indeed, the Holy Spirit will help us respond to the world with “gentleness and reverence”.


The coming of the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ promise to all of us who have faith in him. The word that Jesus uses here for the Holy Spirit, paraclete in Greek, means advocate, defender or consoler and is often used to describe a helper or witness in a court of law. Just as Peter tells his readers to be ready for whenever they are called to make a defence for themselves, Jesus promises a defender who will always be with them.


The Holy Spirit is an advocate and witness for our faith. Not just against the hostile world, but against our own shortcomings, doubts and trials, the Holy Spirit also testifies to Christ’s saving work in our lives. In a world that sometimes seems devoid of God’s presence and action, the Holy Spirit dwells within us to help us “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” The Holy Spirit also provides the grace to help us trust and persevere when it is difficult to keep his commandments. And, when we listen, we are reminded that our new life with God is better than anything the world can offer us.


When the world rejects Christ and his good news, we have the Holy Spirit to help us follow Christ, loving as he loved, suffering as he suffered, and living in unity with the Father as he has made possible. And when we do this, God himself, in the fully divine person of the Holy Spirit, advocates for us, defends us and comforts us.


Joseph Doyle

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