Today’s gospel comes from Jesus’ Farewell Discourse to his apostles at the Last Supper.  He is preparing them for the new season – the coming of time when they will carry the ball, taking over for him.  It’s kind of his pep talk – encouraging them – giving them final instructions.  Last week we heard him tell them in this same discourse, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in me.”  He assured them he was going to the Father’s house and he would prepare a place for them.  And today, he tells them “Love me, keep my commandments.”  “And I will send you an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.”  These words are not just for the apostles – they are for each one of us as well.  It all seems pretty simple doesn’t it?   Just love God.

As we come to the end of the Easter season, fear and uncertainty are replaced by hope and confident love.  We rejoice in the Easter event – the resurrection of our Lord, the eternal love and eternal life that it offers to us. The significance of Easter is not contained in the teachings or laws or practices of the church.  The significance of Easter is not even contained in the historical reality of the event.  The significance of Easter is that we have reason for hope.  Hope that is born out of the love of God.  Hope that is born out of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Hope that is made possible through the grace of God and hope that is reachable by loving God and following his commandments.  Our joy is found in the hope given us through the Easter event, a hope that radiates in ordinary day to day living that prompts us and others to conversion, to interest in faith in God, to the possibilities of a new start – a new beginning.  This year more than ever, we are faced with new beginnings.  As we emerge from the fears and uncertainties we face in our lives, we are called to “sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.” St. Peter tells us “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you to give a reason for your hope.  Do it with gentleness and reverence.” We speak of this hope, not as much with our words as with the lives we lead and the actions we take.  Jesus calls us to embrace the Advocate whom He gives us to lead us forward, and to trust in His love and care for us to carry us to new joys, new ways and new hope.  Our hope is in Jesus Christ!

As Vincentians, this speaks to the importance of returning with passion and zeal to the home visits which are at the very core of our ministry.  When we “cry out to God with joy”, bringing our needs and the needs of our neighbors to Him through prayer, we bring the love and the hope of Jesus Christ to the center of our neighbor’s lives.  We need to look to the Spirit in prayer seeking wisdom in the decisions we make.  We need to act with patience and kindness as we lead others to the light of a new day.  How am I the humble but passionate servant of the Lord each and every day?  How will I, like the apostles before me, emerge proclaiming goodness and love with conviction and mercy?  How can I trust the Lord that He will lead myself and those whom He brings before me to a new day drenched in the joy and hope of His love?

Lord Jesus, we turn to you in praise and thanksgiving!  Draw us from the darkness of fear, uncertainty, and confusion.  Allow us to emerge in confidence embracing the new day you place before us.  Instill in us the confidence and passion of the apostles at Pentecost. Grace us that we might be your shining lights illuminating your glory, your will and your love for all to see.  Guide me in my ministry that I may come in humility and charity to those whom you bring before me.  Allow your Spirit to guide our actions and words allowing them to touch ourselves and others with the transformations you seek.   I pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike