In the Gospel used today, which is from the words Jesus used at the Last Supper, we hear Jesus tell the disciples; and us; that He will ask his Father to send an Advocate to be with us. An advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of, or who stands beside someone offering them support. This Advocate, is the Holy Spirit, called from the Father’s side to be at our side until the end of time.

Fifty years ago on Wednesday [10th] I received the Sacrament of Confirmation, this was when I completed my Sacraments of initiation into the Church. The Catechism tells us that “Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ’s Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.”[CCC 1275] In all honesty, I do not remember much about the evening when I was Confirmed, but fast forward 46 years and I can vividly remember the peace I felt when the Bishop laid his hands on me nearly four years ago at my Ordination; it was a peace that stayed with me for several months.

Within our diocese, and others around the world, Confirmations are happening at this time of year. The Church Liturgy is starting to prepare us for the Feast of Pentecost in two weeks’ time, and today we hear of some of the early Confirmation’s in the Church, which happened in Samaria. Holy Ghost Parish has over 50 young people going to the Cathedral next month to receive this Sacrament; I would like to encourage everyone to pray for these young people and for the Parish that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on them will strengthen their faith, enrich their lives, their families and all of us.

Jesus is calling each of us to be in relationship with Him and He tells us if we love Him then we will keep his commandments. Jesus summed up the commandments as loving God and loving our neighbour. When we think about these two distinct elements, I would like us to ask ourselves –

What have I done this week to show God that I love Him? And –

How have I loved my neighbour this week?

For me, the answer to the first question is that while away on holiday in the United States, I found that the Mass times last Sunday all seemed to clash with functions associated with the Wedding we were attending, except for one evening Mass, in another part of the town – which was in Spanish. So we went to the Mass in Spanish on Sunday evening. This helped me to realise that my knowledge of what is being said at Mass depends so much on those around me. When I tried to remember the prayers and responses in English, I found that I struggled at parts as those around me were speaking in their Mother tongue, which was not familiar to me.

As for loving my neighbour, I found that America, like parts of this country has an underlying poverty which is just below the surface. As we left our hotel to go and find somewhere to eat on our first evening there, we met Leroy, who simply said to me ‘I’m hungry man’. I asked him where I could get him something to eat, and he took me there. I arranged for him to get some food and as we left him, he stopped us and gave us a blessing, thanking Jesus for what we had done for him. I thank God that he introduced Leroy to us that evening; it helped to reinforce for me how much we need to be ready to help others when they are in need. Leroy never asked for help, he just stated that he was hungry and trusted in God that those who heard would respond.

When we hear in today’s Gospel the words of Jesus “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”, how do we feel about how much we love Jesus? Does the way we keep His commandments demonstrate how grateful we are to Him for what He has done for us? If not, what do we need to do this week to improve?

Our relationship with Jesus is not one sided. Jesus died to save us, He expects us to die to ourselves and to serve God and our neighbours. Jesus knows that this is difficult if we are alone, that is why He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us, to guide us and strengthen us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for us because He loves us. In today’s second reading St Peter is urging us all to live a good life, be prepared to share why we live a good life, keep our consciences clear. Live as Jesus lived and be prepared to suffer as He suffered. Offer our sufferings up to the Father, pray for help when we are struggling and allow the Advocate [The Holy Spirit] to guide us back to the Father when our time on this earth is over.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Sixth Sunday of Easter

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 243, 388, 692, 729, 1433, 1848: the Holy Spirit as Advocate/Consoler
CCC 1083, 2670-2672: invoking the Holy Spirit

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The success of the pastoral area formation programme ‘The Wild Goose’ which we are using as part of the Year of the Holy Spirit.
  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Our young people who are receiving Holy Communion for the first time this weekend.
  • Our young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
  • Those attending the RCIA programme at St Bede’s on Wednesday evenings.
  • Those discerning a vocation.
  • Those preparing to be ordained to the priesthood or diaconate.
  • The families due to begin the Baptism Preparation Programme at St Bede’s this weekend.