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6th Sunday of Easter, Year A – Homily

6th Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 607, 16, 20
1 Peter 3:15-18
John 14:15-21

The Samaritan people were despised by the Jews but Samaria is where Philip to proclaimed Christ to the people in today’s reading.  Philip was not one of the Twelve Apostles but he shared (just like all of us) in the mission to proclaim Christ to the world.

The Samaritan crowds “paid attention” to Philip and “saw the signs” he did, driving out unclean spirits and curing people.  Because of what Philip said and did many people there “accepted the Word of God.

We are not able to do miracles but we can still proclaim Christ to others.  Our psalm today says repeatedly today to “sing praise.”  As first hearing, we think of the “singing” as referring to our music.  Our music ministry is important for us in offering praise to God.  Our music ministry is led by Tim as our music director and organist.  Our cantors and choirs play a very important part in our music ministry.  If you have the gift of musical ability I encourage you to consider being part of our parish music ministry.

We are not all given the gift of musical ability but we can all join in signing our hymns and Mass parts but singing praise is more than music.  Our psalm says to “shout joyfully to God” and “let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”

Even if we can’t sing we can still speak of the tremendous deeds of the Lord.  Everyone doesn’t have to be a great preacher.  Peter tells us to “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”

I’ve spoken before about how some people feel they don’t know what to say.  They feel that if they are even to mention Jesus to others, then they need to be able to answer any question the other person might ask.  They know they can’t answer every question so they don’t say anything.

To this I say two things.  First, then do something more to learn about your faith.  You’ve just admitted you don’t know enough.  You can do something about that!  Learn!

Secondly, the most important thing we can do is to provide a reason for our hope.  Even if your faith isn’t as strong as you would like, the fact that you are here right now says that you have some faith.  Why?

As I’ve said on previous Sundays, sometimes we might be here just out of a sense of obligation.  Even if you are coming out of obligation, it means something to you.  Ask yourself why the obligation is important to you.  Is there something about your answer that you can share with others?

Sometimes the thing that keeps us coming back is the stories that we read in the Bible of how God rescued his people in distress.  Such stories give us hope that God will rescue us.  So we keep coming back.  Then you should share these stories with other people.

Maybe you have had an experience in your life where God’s presence and help was evident to you.  It may be a healing from sickness.  It might be a sense of peace and comfort that the Lord has given you in a time of loss where the promise of eternal life gives you hope.

Such experiences can involve a feeling of being loved.  What does it mean to be love God?

Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”  This might be troubling to us.  If another human being begins a conversation by saying, “if you love me….” We might immediately wonder what they are going to ask for.  If they ask us to do something we know to be wrong, then our response to them might be, “if you loved me, you won’t ask me to do that.”

With this in mind, Jesus tells us to keep his commandments but he doesn’t know this to benefit himself.  Jesus has nothing to gain for himself by us keeping his commandments.  We are the ones who benefit from keeping Jesus’ commandments.  ALL of God’s commandments are good for us.

When we keep his commandments and see the good it brings us, we can know that Jesus loves us.  We need to see with our hearts, not our human eyes.

For instance, if we look at Jesus on the Cross only with human eyes, we see a man whose life was destroyed by his enemies.  When we look at Jesus on the Cross with the eyes of faith, we see not a man defeated but Christ who loves us so much that he gives up his life for us.

Our opening prayer asks “that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy.”  We are still celebrating Easter as our “days of joy.”  May we know with heartfelt devotion what these days mean for us.  This is the reason for our hope.  Jesus died and rose that we might know eternal life.

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