6th Sunday of Easter A
May 25, 2014
SPIRIT BEFORE US; SPIRIT BESIDE US; SPIRIT IN US!
Indwelling presence are two big words. After so long studying theology prior to ordination, I still could not fully understand it. As a priest for so long now, I think I am beginning to understand some of it.
The three readings today talk about the Spirit being given and being received. The first reading talks about Peter and John going to Samaria and praying over the Samaritans recently baptized. Peter’s letter (second reading) refers to Jesus being brought back to life in the Spirit. The Gospel of John reminds us of the Father giving another Advocate who “will be with us always” – the “Spirit of Truth.”
Indwelling presence may be big words, but the reality they stand for is even bigger! And it does not matter anymore if my puny little mind can still not fully fathom what it means.
When I don’t understand things, I feel I am alone in the dark. Being alone is bad enough at times, but being in the dark, on top of being alone, could be worse. I remember a nightmare I had as a little boy. I was all alone in a dark room. I could hear menacing shouts outside the house. I was petrified in fear. I could not move and I could not see neither anything nor anyone. It was pitch dark. And I was alone, with no one beside me, to sit by me, to reassure me. I don’t know now how long I was in that situation that brought me so much terror. I don’t remember much of anything anymore, but I do remember feeling terrified … terrified as much being in the dark, as having no one beside me.
The disciples must have felt the same when the Lord died. Their Master and Lord had disappeared all so suddenly, put to death by the hated and feared authorities. They hid in the Upper Room. And it didn’t help any that they did not know what they did with the body of their Lord, for they received reports that it had been taken away.
What a relief it must have been to see Him alive and well! That was good news. But Christ leads us from good to great. He does not settle for the simply good. He gives us the best. And the great news that confronts us today is simply this …
We will never be alone. Ever! He promised to ask the Father who will “give another Advocate.”
I still don’t fully understand what indwelling presence means, but I do know what having someone beside me forever means. It simply means I am no longer in the dark, and I am no longer alone. There is a “Paraclete” who acts as Advocate, who simply stands by me and sits by me, and stays with me, and who leads me from good to great. He leads me and you and us to the Truth, saving Truth, to ultimate Truth.
I love now to think of the Holy Spirit as one who stays with me and us. I have it from experience that what one receives makes one full. When one receives something, one becomes filled … one becomes rich … one becomes complete. One does not remain alone, unfilled, unfulfilled.
This is the Great gift of the Paraclete. With this, I need not worry anymore about high faluting theological big words like indwelling presence. He was poured out generously by the Father to Christ’s Church … to you and me. Because of this, we stand to become, not only filled, but also fulfilled; no longer alone, but accompanied in our journey; not only anxious in the dark, but joyful in His presence!
Glory be to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!