22 May 2010

I Will Not Leave You Orphans

Today in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass for the Vigil of Pentecost, Jesus said, as recorded in Saint John’s Gospel: ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ (Saint John 14:15). Love for God can get thrown around rather generically. Anyone can say: ‘Yes, I love the Lord and the Lord loves me’. But statements like that seldom consider the responsibility of love. What does it mean to say ‘I love the Lord’? How do I show my love for Him? Jesus assigns us a responsibility: ‘Keep My commandments’.

In our culture today, it’s quite evident that Our Lord’s assignment on how to commit to Him is not being met. In fact, efforts have been made and continue to be made to do just the opposite. In 2003 the Ten Commandments monument was removed from the rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building, even though 4 of 5 Americans disapproved of that decision. In 2006 at Tennessee, bills introduced in the General Assembly which would permit the Ten Commandments to be displayed in courthouses were defeated. There are many stories ranging from the Ten Commandments being removed, the right to pray denied in public schools, bibles not allowed in the workplace, the continuing efforts to uphold the culture of death, etc., all of which demonstrate how God is being pulled from our public lives.

In this same Gospel today, Jesus said that if we keep His commandments, He will ask the Father and He will give us the Paraclete, that He may abide with us forever (cf. Saint John 14:16). The Paraclete is the Spirit of Truth. It should come to us as no surprise that our culture is caught up in rampant secularism: Jesus prophesied it in today’s Gospel: ‘The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it doesn’t see Him or know Him’ (Saint John 14:17). But Jesus in turn says to those of us who see Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life: ‘But you shall know Him because He shall abide with you and shall be in you’ (ibid.).

Dear friends, we truly are, as Saint Peter tells us, ‘strangers and pilgrims’ (1 Saint Peter 2:11). Saint Paul warned us in tears that many are enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, who mind earthly things (cf. Philippians 3:18-19). Why does he tell us this weeping? Perhaps it is because of the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave us: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind’ (Saint Matthew 22:37); and, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’ (Saint Matthew 22:39). If we truly love others as we love God, how can we not weep at what we see? As a people committed to the Lord, however, it dictates that we are a people of prayer: ‘Our conversation is in heaven’ (Philippians 3:20). There is always hope, ‘and hope does not disappoint’ (Romans 5:5) because the charity of God is poured forth into our hearts, Who is the Holy Spirit (cf. ibid.).

While the outlook may often seem bleak, Jesus promises us: ‘I will not leave you orphans’ (Saint John 14:18). May the gift of the great Paraclete continue to transform us and our world; and may we, a people of God, grow in intimacy with His Spirit, Who resides in the recesses of our souls!

A blessed and transforming Pentecost to all!