Sunday Scripture: May 14, 2023; 6th Sunday of Easter - Catholic Courier
The Catholic News Service column, "Speak to Me Lord," offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec) The Catholic News Service column, "Speak to Me Lord," offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

Sunday Scripture: May 14, 2023; 6th Sunday of Easter

May 14, 2023 – 6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
1 Pt 3:15-18
Jn 14:15-21

A few years ago, a colleague of mine made a pastoral visit to one of the forgotten corners of the world: Armenia. Here is a country suffering from devastations most of us can only imagine — genocide, war, earthquakes, economic disaster. It’s all taken a toll. The young have left, looking for better opportunities. Many of those left behind — the elderly and even some young mothers with children — live in what my colleague called “grinding poverty.”

Their homes are tin sheds with no running water. Indoor plumbing is a hole in the floor. These are people who once had lives and careers, families and businesses — and now they have nothing. Some collect a small pension, but many are barely able to live.

Reflecting on all this, my colleague emailed me, “I know God is everywhere, but it seems sometimes that he is nowhere.”

His unspoken question seemed to be: “Where is God?”

It is a question that has been asked again and again throughout history — many asked it, I remember, after the tragedy of 9/11. When things seem most bleak, when the world is wracked by despair, where is hope? Where is faith?

Where is God? Cynics may scoff. Doubters will shrug. But you don’t have to look far to find an answer; we find one in this Sunday’s Gospel. Just before he ascends to the Father, Jesus tells his disciples: you will not be alone.

“The Father will give you another Advocate to be with you always,” he says, “the Spirit of truth … you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

The Advocate, of course, is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is coming, Jesus says. You will not be abandoned or alone.

Who would dare to disbelieve him?

In just a couple weeks, we will celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the church, when the Holy Spirit fell like fire upon the apostles. It can be easy for us to forget: That fire is still burning. Even now, the Advocate continues to advocate for all of us.

To those who ask, “Where is God?,” the simple answer is: “Look around you.” God is wherever the Holy Spirit is at work.

In Armenia, he is in the hearts of those who are caring for the sick, the elderly, the poor, the helpless. He is in the arms that embrace children who have been pushed aside.

He is everywhere the light of Christ continues to burn — the light ignited at the Easter Vigil in millions of candles around the world.

Seek that, I believe, and you will see the face of Christ — and with that, the ongoing advocacy work of the ultimate Advocate, the Holy Spirit.

Whether we realize it or not, God lives on around us and within us. Love prevails. Hope endures.

The letter from Peter this week exhorts us: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” Here is my explanation, one astounding reason for hope: It is Jesus Christ! It is God’s son showing us, with open arms on the cross, just how wide is the breadth of his love.

It is The Word made flesh keeping his word. Again and again, in ways both visible and invisible.

It is the joy and certainty of a 2,000-year-old promise that has been kept — of love enduring, compassion spreading, inspiration and hope prevailing, in spite of everything.

It is the continuing presence of the Advocate. Yes. There is a reason for hope!

It’s there every Sunday in the tabernacle. It’s in the pews, in the quiet work of people we know and strangers we don’t.

It’s within us all, burning with the glow of one candle that ignited countless more fires, in humbling and inexpressible ways.

Trust and believe: We are not orphans.

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