Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C)
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Some teachers are unforgettable because of the values and virtues they carry and communicate. If you take a little time to scan through your school days, you may recall some teachers who greatly impacted your life. Some could have been termed “strict” or “mean,” but time would have revealed that they were the best.
Teachers are exceptional builders who help form people’s minds concerning their knowledge and character. A world without teachers will be unthinkable and a great disaster; every functional society should celebrate teachers.
The Eternal School Teacher
One of the primary functions of any teacher is to help the student make the right decision. But, on the other hand, a good student can remember and apply what the teacher taught as the right answer to a question or a solution to a problem.
Before leaving the earth, our Lord Jesus Christ promised the disciples that he would send another Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with them forever (John 14:16). In the discourse in the Gospel of this Sunday (John 14:23-29), our Lord Jesus Christ reveals that one of the important functions of the Holy Spirit is teaching: “the advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything.”
The emphasis here is not just “teaching” but “teaching everything”! In school, we have teachers who teach certain subjects. For example, an art teacher cannot be an authority in the sciences, and the reverse is the case. But here, we have a teacher who excels in every discipline anyone can name. So, there is nothing beyond the scope of competence of the Holy Spirit.
The First Reading of this Sunday (Acts 15:1-2, 22-29) tells us about the first puzzle the early Church faced that led to the First Council of the Church in Jerusalem. The background was that though the early Church was open to everyone, Jews and non-Jews, some people were pushing that non-Jews should be circumcised according to the Mosaic principle to be saved.
The teaching was not in line with the instruction of Christ, who said that the Gospel should be preached to reach the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:19-20), and he never said that the Mosaic practice of circumcision should be a yardstick for salvation. Rather he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6).
At the peak of the contrasting ideas about circumcision and uncircumcision, the disciples forgot the Lord’s instruction. Therefore, they needed to consult the Eternal Teacher, the Holy Spirit, to remind them of what Jesus said. So, in the end, the Council resolved that Christians who are non-Jews are not obliged to practice the mosaic law but should abstain from unholy practices and lifestyles. And this decision came through the teaching instruction of the Holy Spirit.
The Peace Teacher in Troubled Times
Often, most people erroneously think that serving and worshipping God guarantees freedom from troubles. One of the scary final words of Jesus to his disciples says: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
The Christian life is not trouble-free. We go through life facing trouble or getting out of one. We may not completely run away from problems, but we can contain them when they come, and that can be possible if we learn the technology of peace from the Holy Spirit.
Remember that the Holy Spirit would teach us everything, including peace dynamics. By the way, peace is one of the enduring fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
To refresh our minds, peace is not just the absence of trouble; there is more to it. Peace has to do with the profound awareness of the presence of God in one’s heart. So Jesus would say, “let your hearts not be troubled,” not your “nerves.” Troubles are inmates of the heart, and their solution would also come from the heart.
Moving Forward: Courting the Attention of the Eternal Teacher
The word courtship often describes the period a relationship is built between a man and a woman before it could end in a marriage. However, the verb to court means to gain access or seek to win; for instance, to court attention is to seek the attention of someone.
As we look forward to the celebration of the Pentecost, the Church invites us to start seeking the attention of the Holy Spirit as the readings in the days ahead reveal the person, character, and mission of the Holy Spirit.
The good news is that the Holy Spirit is here to help us in everything. But we need to call His attention for help. Jesus tells us that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13).
In the tough decisions, you need to take in your life, take your time, pray and ask the Holy Spirit for direction and you will be amazed by the outcome if you patiently wait to hear from Him. In the troubles that come your way, ask the Holy Spirit for His fruit of peace. Surely His peace will not elude you!
God bless you, and have a blessed week ahead.