FIRST READING Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29
Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”
SECOND READING Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.
GOSPEL John 14:23-29
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
The Gospel of John tells us today: I am going away and I will come back to you. As we consider and pray about the readings we have heard, we are invited to reflect on the presence and absence of Jesus in our lives and in the lives of the Church.
The first reading today, from the Acts of the Apostles, begins to deal with the conflicts in the early Church. If Jesus had been present as He was before His death and resurrection, these conflicts could not have arisen. Instead, Jesus is now present to us and to His Church in a different way: through one another and through those who have a special role in His Church, the Apostles and their successors. Conflicts can be solved if we pray and speak together and seek the guidance of the Spirit.
The second reading, from the Book of Revelation, continues the teaching about the foundations of the great City of God: faith, the Apostles and the Lamb of God. We can reflect on how different our world would be if everyone had faith. We can reflect on how different our own lives would be if we always had faith. We can reflect on the strength of our God who works through faith and spiritual structures.
The Gospel bring us back to the statement of Jesus: I am going away and I will come back to you. Jesus wants us to know that His Spirit, the Advocate, will be with us and will teach us all things. The Spirit has a mission to us to teach us all things, to remind of the teachings of Jesus. We must daily invite the Holy Spirit to be present in our lives and to teach us and remind us. The Spirit is not teaching something new. Rather, the Spirit is teaching the same lessons that Jesus taught: love of God and love of neighbor; service to God and service to neighbor; love and service even of our enemies. The Spirit will invite us to suffer and die for our faith and remind us that Jesus gave His life for us.
My sisters and brothers, each day we should be praying: Come, Holy Spirit! Kindle is us the fire of your love! Make us truly wise and give us the gifts that we need to live faithfully today. Amen.