HOMILY EASTER SEASON WEEK 06 02 – Year I
Servants of the Word
(Acts 16:22-34; Ps 138: Jn 16:5-11)
“Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world, and to go to the Father.”
This statement provides the background for the message of the readings for us today: grounded in the love of Jesus and the Father for us, we are to be servants of the Gospel.
In the passages preceding and following this statement as part of the last Discourse of Jesus with his disciples, it is pointed out that Jesus was from the Father; was always in communion with the Father, and was going back to the Father.
It is this intimate relationship of love with the Father, this communion with the Father, this bond of love with the Father that gave Jesus the security and the ability to take off his outer garments symbolizing status, authority and prestige, humble himself and wash the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper.
The more that we are grounded in Jesus’ love for us, his present day disciples, and our love for him, the more we are also grounded in the Father’s love for us. That intimate relationship with the Father should allow us to also enter into humble service to our brothers and sisters in the world.
The gift of the Spirit is part of that intimate relationship with Jesus and the Father. Unless the disciples, like Mary Magdalene in the garden trying to cling to Jesus, allowed Jesus to ascend, however, they could not receive the Spirit. There is an invitation here for us to grieve and mourn our losses, whatever they are, so that we may be open to receiving a new presence of Jesus to us through his Spirit to fill the void left by those losses.
It is that Spirit, and that loving relationship with the Son and through the Son to the Father, that we are empowered to be servants of the Word of God. We see in the first reading how Paul and Silas were freed from prison, and from the shackles binding them, by the power of that same Spirit. The message here is that the Word of God cannot be bound or restricted, and we are to be servants of that Word of God – that Jesus is the Risen Lord; that he has returned to the Father and has empowered us to now be his witnesses to the world as servants of the Gospel.
St. Brother André Bissette was an example of someone who had a deep, intimate relationship not just with Jesus and the Father, but also with Joseph the foster-father of Jesus. As doorman in the community where he lived, he shared his faith with thousands of people who came to him for encouragement and for healing. In his own way, he lived the Word of God and certainly was deserving of the million people who attended his funeral. They knew that this man, this humble brother, was a saint long before his cause for canonization was begun.
The Eucharist is both a celebration of the Word of God, and the sacramental presence of that Word as the Body and Blood of Jesus, the Christ. May our celebration today strengthen our faith and our intimate union with Jesus and the Father that we might more effectively be servants of the Gospel as were Paul and Silas, and St. André Bissette.