Let us follow Jesus and be heralds of the Gospel

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During the month of June, we will conclude another Easter Season with the celebration of Pentecost, followed by some major solemnities (feast days). These are Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi (the Body & Blood of the Lord), the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and Saints Peter and Paul. That is quite a line-up for any month of the year!

These great liturgical celebrations speak to us of the importance in our lives of discipleship (following Jesus) and witness (being heralds of the Gospel). Jesus shares his life with us not only that we may become fully who we are created to be, namely sons and daughters of God, but also that we may complete the work and will of God in our lives. This is how the Kingdom of God advances in the world.

Following Jesus (discipleship) allows us to grow in intimate friendship with him. This in turn is what compels us to speak to others about him; first by the way we live — our values and virtues — and secondly, by our ability to share our faith. The true disciple is consciously aware of the many good things God has done for her, and she is ready to share with others the cause of her hope.

Throughout the Easter Season Jesus encourages us to root our lives more fully in his Risen Life. He tells us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” (John 14:1)

Disciples of the Lord know that the peace that Jesus gives is different from anything the world has to offer.

The appearance of the Risen Jesus to the women and men of the early church was complimented by the promised gift of the Holy Spirit and sent them into the world as witnesses to the Resurrection. The joyful news of the Resurrection that we have received continues to compel us to be witnesses to Jesus in the world today.

Jesus continually comes to us to share the fruits of his victory over death. Through baptism and confirmation, the same creator Spirit that was poured out at Pentecost upon the apostles is given to us. Just as Jesus walked with the two disciples along the road to Emmaus, (Luke 24: 13-35) he is accompanying us along our journey of faith.

Jesus promised to remain with us, and he is true to his word. Our challenge is to remain with him in faith with determination to live in the light and life of the Resurrection.

 

The Word of God and the Holy Spirit

There is an account in the Acts of the Apostles (8: 14-17) which is quite revealing regarding the combined roles of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. We hear that when the Apostles learned that a group in Samaria had accepted the word of God, Peter and John traveled there to pray with them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

Here is the critical insight: “they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Obviously, accepting the word of God and believing in Jesus are crucial for each-and-every one of us. But, of equal importance is receiving and cooperating with the Holy Spirit!

An important aspect of our life as disciples is to spend time with Jesus, to spend time with his word. How often do we spend time reading Scripture? Saint James gives us great encouragement: “humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

As indicated in the passage from Acts, it is precisely the Holy Spirit that vivifies the Word within us, which leads us to perform even greater deeds.

This month, I invite you to be renewed in the life of the Risen Christ. Let us open our hearts and lives to the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Take up again or rededicate yourself to a life of faith in Jesus Christ. Draw near once again to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who pours upon us his infinite, unconditional love and mercy. Let us follow the examples of Saint John the Baptist, Saints Peter and Paul, in following Christ faithfully, and generously bearing witness to him in the world with lives of joyful holiness.

The writer is the archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska.


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