Congratulations to all our graduates!
First of all, I take this opportunity to congratulate our senior graduates and their families. Our prayers are with you in future plans.
Graduation! How exciting? I am sure seniors are full of dreams and plans for the future. Parents, teachers, and family will look at you with a question: what is next? What are you going to study? What do you want to become? Some of you have already decided, and some of you are not sure yet.
Today we gather to honor your success and celebrate the Lord’s gift, the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving. The gift of the Lord, the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive is the greatest gift possible. It is His sacrifice on the Cross made real in the Eucharist for us to eat and be nourished with. It is the source of our life.
Easter season readings prepare us to celebrate Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. Each weekend's reading from the Acts of the Apostles gives us a glimpse of the life of the early Church. The members of the early Christian communities were Jews and gentiles. The first reading tells us about the great internal struggle of the Early Church. Book of Leviticus 12:3, says, “On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised” One group insisted that the gentiles should follow the Mosaic law. The Holy Spirit in dwelling in the Church helped the apostles to solve a major doctrinal problem about the Gentiles becoming Christians, which shook the very foundation of the early Church. The ancient Jews had a particular culture that the first Christians realized was not their culture.
After the resurrection, each time when Jesus appeared to his apostles, he wished them peace. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (14:27). I think they might have thought about peace while we are scared to death. He breathed on them and asked them to receive the Holy Spirit. Before the Ascension, Jesus told them to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). We know that after the Pentecost they understood all the teaching of Jesus and they went out and proclaimed the Good News (Acts. 2). They received real peace. It is not absence of struggle or violence, but it is inner strength. We know that the apostles were courageous to go out and proclaim the Risen Lord. Paul, the persecutor, became the apostle of gentiles. There was no more room for fear.
The Gospel passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit, abiding within us, is our teacher and the source of all peace. The passage offers a vision of hope. Jesus prepares his disciples, those who love him, for his departure from this world and shows them how they can keep love and intimacy alive even in his physical absence. Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Jesus promises his followers that the Holy Spirit will come and instruct them in everything they need to know. 2 Peter 1:21 says, “No prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the Holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.”
In the first reading Apostles and other leaders were struggling to make decisions. We see the Holy Spirit guiding them in that decision-making. We read, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden…” Let us invite the Holy Spirit into our daily life, to our joys and sorrows; our strength and weakness. Jesus told the Apostles, and today to us, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”