Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 8:5-8; 1 Pet 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21 (Year A)

‘Philip went to a Samaritan town and proclaimed the Christ to them. The people united in welcoming the message Philip preached.” The Acts of the Apostles locates the proclamation of the Resurrection, and the growth of the first congregations in Jerusalem. Of its very nature the power of Christ’s Resurrection cannot be contained; it must reach out to the ends of the earth.

The preaching of Philip in a Samaritan town marked an important step in this expansion. Until this time Samaritans had been treated as despised outsiders, far removed from the grace of God. Now they rejoiced in welcoming the Risen Lord whose presence brought healing, forgiveness and reconciliation.

This readiness to reach beyond familiar boundaries was a distinguishing characteristic of the early Church. It challenges the complacency that can so easily limit the imaginations of our settled congregations. There is within us all a spirit of timidity that is threatened by the unfamiliar, that is afraid to reach out to those who seem so very different from ourselves. This is particularly true in an increasingly secular society with dwindling congregations.

Let us not be afraid to confess our inadequacy so as to face the challenge. Such inadequacy will bring us back to our Risen Lord, whose presence was the driving power of that early growth. Jesus had prepared his disciples for the difficulties they would face with repeated assurances. “If you love me you will keep my commandments. I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth whom the world can never receive, since it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he is with you, he is in you.”

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