2020.05.17 Sixth Sunday of Easter
Updated: May 27
'When the Spirit of Truth comes,
He will guide you into all the Truth.'
“The Trinity with the Dead Christ”
Birth 1555, Bologna
Death 1619, Bologna
Lodovico Carracci managed to express the transcendent in terms of great intimacy and sincere humanity.
This subject, very unusual at the time of the Counter-Reformation, goes back to a purely medieval iconographic idea.
Instead of the traditional, hierarchical representation of the Trinity with God the Father between the Holy Spirit and Christ on the Cross, Lodovico combines this theme with a scene of the Pieta, in which Christ is received into the Father's arms rather than those of the Virgin.
The astounding compassion of God the Father for humanity can be seen in the way the Father is in distress and embraces the sufferings inflicted upon His Son, while the Angels surround and wait on Him, and hold the symbols of the Passion.
There is a Time for Tears
By Sam Hargreaves
There’s a time for tears, and a time for pain, time to hurt while the grief remains. There’s a time when peace seems so far away, yet still God holds us on that day.
There’s a time to weep from the ache inside, time to show what we’ve tried to hide, There’s a time to doubt and to wonder why, and hold each other as we cry.
God of comfort, God of the cross, joining us here to weep, stand beside us, grieving our loss, and be for us the hope of peace.
There is time to smile at the memories, time for thanks as we meet to grieve. It takes time to heal, so we pause today to mourn, remember and to pray.
© Sam Hargreaves / RESOUNDworship.org,
RESOUNDworship.org, Administered by Jubilate Hymns Ltd -
15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18 I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them”.
The farewell discourse of Jesus to his disciples before his Passion is a long speech that in the Gospel of John starts in Chapter Thirteen and runs through to Chapter Seventeen.
In this discourse, after the washing of the feet, in the context of the Last Supper, Jesus leaves his legacy to his disciples:
· He expresses his self-understanding as Son of God;
· He speaks about the way He will continue to be present with the disciples;
· Jesus tells the parable of the True Vine;
· He explains the relationship the disciples are going to have with the non-believers (the “world”);
· He will announce the coming of the Holy Spirit; and
· He will dedicate a long prayer (the so called “Priestly Prayer”) to the Father on behalf of his disciples.
The Knowledge of the Spirit of God
Today’s Gospel sheds light upon the Holy Spirit.
As we prepare for the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus and the great climax of the Easter Season with the Solemnity of Pentecost, we ask God to enlighten us, so that we may come to a closer experience of the power of the Holy Spirit at work in history and within the very Mystery of the Trinity.
The Holy Spirit is the “Great Unknown” and yet, the principle of life, present in the Scriptures from the very beginning of Creation. Immaterial, the Spirit can be easily overlooked or taken for granted, yet without the Holy Spirit we cannot call God Father, nor recognize Christ, nor have an idea of what God’s love for us really is.
Like oil on the face
We can read this explanation of how the Spirit and Jesus cannot be separated, by one of the Early Fathers of the Church, St. Gregory of Nissa:
“The notion of anointing suggests . . . that there is no distance between the Son and the Spirit. Indeed, just as between the surface of the body and the anointing with oil neither reason nor sensation recognizes any intermediary, so the contact of the Son with the Spirit is immediate, so that anyone who would make contact with the Son by faith must first encounter the oil by contact. In fact there is no part that is not covered by the Holy Spirit. That is why the confession of the Son's Lordship is made in the Holy Spirit by those who receive him, the Spirit coming from all sides to those who approach the Son in faith”.
The Name of the Holy Spirit
The Hebrew term for Spirit is “RUAH”, translated into Greek by “Paraclete”. It is difficult to translate the Greek word “Paraclete” into English, and that is why many times we use this strange name to designate the Holy Spirit.
Evidently, it is not so important what we call the Holy Spirit as to how we experience the work of Holy Spirit within us: as companion, consoler, advocate, protector, guide, counsellor, revealer, friend or an interior driving force, breeze or inner wind, … .
The following are some symbols of the Holy Spirit: water, anointing, fire, cloud, light, seal, laying-on-of-hands, finger (Luke 11:20), the dove, … .
Jesus promises the Holy Spirit
Here it is not Jesus who will directly send the Holy Spirit. The action is rather done by the Father at the request of the Son. The union of hearts makes the Father answer the prayer of Jesus and send the Spirit.
The Spirit of Truth
What is Truth for us?
How do we abide by the Truth?
Jesus says that the world will never accept the Spirit of Truth. People in the world may have intelligence and knowledge even of the greatest mysteries, but it does not mean they know about the Truth.
On the other hand, we know that the disciples were not educated and were not the most intelligent of their time. Even in the Gospel we see that they continuously ask questions, and were often unable to understand; nevertheless, Jesus says that they have “accepted the Truth”.
The human heart without God is unable to accept the Truth. Our nature is often unable to accept reality as it really is, especially when sacrifice is demanded, for example accepting the news of a serious illness, or the death of a loved one.
The world (our own predisposition to evil) does not accept the Spirit of Truth because:
1. It is unable to see Him;
2. It is unable to recognize Him (it is not able to give the right interpretation of what the senses perceive).
In the midst of confusion, a lack of understanding or a failure to distinguish the presence of God, the faithful disciple of Jesus accepts the Spirit of God at work in the midst of affliction and human contradictions. S/he strives to see God everywhere, and interprets reality with the ‘eyes of God’. This is not the fruit of one’s own will, power or desire, but of the presence of the Spirit beside her/him and of the abiding of the Spirit in the heart of the disciple.
I shall not leave you Orphans
We are aware that orphans and widows were among the most disadvantaged members of society in Jesus’ time.
The dreadful thought of remaining without a father or a mother conveys the message that Jesus wants to share with this disciples: God is our Father, and Jesus is going to leave us to be at the Father’s side; however, He will not let us down.
Eyes will not see him, but the inner vision of faith will make clear that Jesus is at work in the world, not far from us but within us.
To those who see him He promises life; however, the life that Jesus has after his death. That future life, the fulfilment of our present living, will reveal fully who the Father is. Then we will be able to understand the relationship of the Father with Jesus and of Jesus with each one of us.
And once again, this will be with the cooperation of each one of us. Keeping the commandment of love is the prerequisite to arrive at the awareness of being loved by God the Father and by His Son.
Circle of Love
Therefore, in the words of Jesus:
Love is Obedience and
Obedience brings two consequences:
1. Safety, and
2. Knowledge, which results again in an even greater love.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Oh, Holy Spirit, You are the Third Person of the Holy Trinity.
You are the Spirit of Truth, Love and Holiness, proceeding from the Father and the Son, and equal to Them in all things.
I adore You and love You with all my heart.
Teach me to know and to seek God by Whom and for Whom I was created.
Feel my heart with the holy respect and love for Him.
Give me compassion and patience, and do not let me fall into sin.
Increase faith, hope and charity in me, and bring forth in me all the virtues proper to my state of life.
Help me to grow in the four cardinal virtues, your seven gifts and your twelve fruits.
Make me a faithful follower of Jesus, an obedient child of the Church, and a help to my neighbour.
Give me the grace to keep the commandments, and to receive the Sacraments worthily.
Raise me to holiness in the state of life to which you have called me, and lead me through a serene death to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Contemplation of the Holy Spirit is contemplation of the love that God has for each one of us, and by analogy, of the silent power of love within us.
What is the origin, and the nature of the drive for love, beauty and goodness imprinted in our hearts?
That inner drive moves beyond the instinct for survival, procreation, defense and selfishness imprinted in human nature that aims at the perpetuation of the species. We contemplate the love of the Father for us and how He has allowed us share the same Spirit of love of God.
We contemplate how the work of the Spirit is shown in the life of Jesus.
We contemplate the beauty of nature and creation for our delight, nurture and solace. As we witness how creation resists, especially when degraded by human carelessness, we contemplate the desire within us to care for creation so that we may be able to pass on to our children a better world.
Reflecting on the icon of the Suffering Trinity, we can contemplate the compassion of God for us in our sufferings and in the sufferings of our less privileged brothers and sisters who are more vulnerable due to poverty, sickness or the lack of human solace and love.
Mary Magdalene looked for the Lord
 CCC. No. 689: “To be sure, it is Christ who is seen, the visible image of the invisible God, but it is the Spirit who reveals him”.  1 Cor 2:11: “For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God”.  St. Gregory of Nyssa, De Spiritu Sancto, 16: PG 45, 1321A-B.  CCC. No. 692: “When he proclaims and promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, Jesus calls him the ‘Paraclete’, literally, ‘he who is called to one's side’, ‘advocatus’. ‘Paraclete’, is commonly translated by ‘consoler’, and Jesus is the first consoler. The Lord also called the Holy Spirit "the Spirit of truth."  John 20: 22-23: “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  1 Cor. 13:2: “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”.