Sunday, May 14, 2017

Fifth Sunday of Easter Cycle A

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

Beyond Facilitating

One of the "in" words today in meetings, seminars, workshops and even retreats and recollections is "facilitating”. The one facilitating is called a facilitator.

According to the “to facilitate” is “to make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, a process, etc.)”. Although the word “facilitate” was first used in the seventeenth century it is only in the past 20 years or so that this word has been used to refer to conducting meetings, seminars, workshops, retreats and recollections. Expressions such as “he facilitated the meeting”, “he facilitated the class” have become common.

In some colleges and universities the teacher is looked upon as a facilitator and is called so by that term. Before we had retreat masters, referring to priests or trained lay persons who conduct the process of a retreat. Today we now call these retreat facilitators.

I started this reflection with this idea of facilitating because that is what Jesus promises to do in our Gospel reading today although he did not use the precise term facilitate in Greek or Aramaic.

Our Gospel reading ends with these words: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."

This means that Jesus will make those who believe in him to do the works he did and greater works than these. He will help them do an action or work. That is the meaning of facilitating, Jesus makes it easier for believers to do his work and greater works than those done by him.

This brings us to a fourth quality of the resurrected body of Jesus. We briefly recall the first three qualities of Jesus' resurrected body we reflected upon in our previous homilies.

The first is that Jesus' resurrected body is the first object in the new creation. The second is that his resurrected body can become visible and invisible at his will. The third is that Jesus' resurrected body is very fruitful, the source of an abundant life. Now we go to the fourth quality. Jesus' resurrected body makes it easier for others to do the works that need to be done.

The reason why the resurrected body of Jesus is able to facilitate the actions of other bodies is because it can send its Spirit to empower the other bodies to perform those works.

Notice the reason Jesus gives why those who believe in him will do his works and greater works than those done by him. He said, "because I am going to the Father."

He goes back to his Father. And what does he do there? He will be given all power and authority in heaven and on earth. In corporate or management language he will become the CEO or Chief Executive Officer of this whole universe. And being a resurrected CEO he can now send his Spirit from his resurrected body to facilitate the work of those who believe in him.

Did you ever wonder why Jesus could not send his Spirit before his resurrection? The reason is simple. It was because that Spirit was not yet the spirit of a resurrected body. It was still the spirit of a weak, material body. But now that his body is resurrected it can send its Spirit, the Spirit of a resurrected body to empower other people to do what he wants them to do.

That is why the first time Jesus appeared to his disciples as a group he breathed on them and told them to receive his Spirit, because this Spirit is now able to facilitate their work. By breathing on them and saying, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit he was saying that this Spirit was from him, a resurrected person.

And truly this Spirit facilitated the work of those who believe in Jesus to do works greater that those done by Jesus. These works are greater because they now transfer people from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. It was not just miracles of healing or even raising people from the dead, but giving people a completely new life. But this happened only through the Spirit of Jesus' resurrected body.

But Jesus does not only facilitate. He empowers and makes his believers do these works without violating their free will. God prophesied in the Old Testament through Ezekiel, "I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees" (36:27). This promise means that God will make it easier for us to obey his commandments through that Spirit of Jesus whom he puts within us.

Do we have a problem with sin or sins? Jesus' resurrected body empowers us through this his Spirit to get rid of sin first by forgiveness and then by doing the opposite of sin which is living by his statures and carefulness to observe God’s decrees, as Ezekiel prophesied.

That is why after Jesus told his disciple to receive the Holy Spirit he gave them power to forgive sins, which only God can do. This is a work greater than the miracles Jesus did during his lifetime.

This Spirit of Jesus is ours now making it easier for us to do what God wants us to do. This Spirit was given to us in baptism and made sure and permanent in our confirmation.

If we believe in Jesus it is easier for us now to do good than to do evil, thanks to the Spirit of the resurrected body of Jesus.

The first reading tells us that indeed the disciples were now able to do greater works that those done by Jesus in his physical body. They were now able to provide for the sustenance of widows through the ministry of the deacons. The word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly; even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith. In the first recorded public sermon of Peter three thousand believers joined the disciples. There was later an additional of five thousand men.

In the second reading we are told also what this greater works are. The believers are now become living stones, built into a spiritual house. A new kind of people is raised up by God through these believers, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that they may announce the praises of him who called them out of darkness into his wonderful light. These believers are us. We are this chosen race, this royal priesthood, a holy nation, set apart in the service of the God of this universe.

All these are made possible by the spirit of the resurrected body of Jesus. He is now all powerful, this lowly carpenter from Nazareth,

And this Spirit of Jesus is with us now, making it easier for us to live lives pleasing to God.

We pray as we bow our heads.

Almighty Father, you raised Jesus from the dead and gave him authority and power to make it easy for us to obey you. He is the greatest facilitator through the Spirit from his resurrected body. Thank you. With this Spirit we can truly call you, Abba, Father. Amen.

- - - - - - - - - -

Note for the readers:

The Mass readings are from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is where our Lectionary gets the readings.

NAB stands for New American Bible (before it was revised). This is the translation I use. Unless otherwise stated the text I use is from this translation.

AV stands for Authorized Version of the Bible. It is more commonly referred to as the King James Bible. It is the version most used in English literature, therefore it is the one known more by the English speaking world.

No comments:

Post a Comment