My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So we are entering the final days of the Easter season this week! Next Sunday we celebrate our Lord’s Ascension into heaven.
During this Sundays of Easter, the last few weeks, we have being stories from the Gospel about those days after Jesus’ Resurrection.
And we the Apostles, they are so filled with joy be to spending time with Jesus — to be talking to him, listening to his words, sharing meals with him, praying with him.
But all that changes when Jesus ascends into heaven. And that’s what the Gospel today is trying to help us understand.
Jesus is going to heaven, the Apostles aren’t going to be able to see him physically anymore, we cannot see him. But still, he’s not far away. This is the beautiful promise that we hear in the Gospel today — “I am going away and I will come back to you!”
And my dear brothers and sisters, this is not just a nice saying. This is the promise of God. And as we all know, God keeps all of his promises! “I am going away and I will come back to you!”
So he comes back to us! He’s always with us, we just have to know where to look. We just have to know how to find him.
And that is why Jesus gives us his Holy Spirit. Again we heard Jesus say in the Gospel today: 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.
God gives us the Holy Spirit to open our eyes — to help us to see things in the right way. To help us to sense the hidden presence of God all around us.
As you know during the Easter season in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and maybe diocese all over the country, it is a time for the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Last week we have the confirmation adults here at our Cathedral parish.
And I always try to tell the ones receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that they are receiving on that beautiful celebration on that day, will help them to see and feel the presence of God in their lives. It’s the Holy Spirit acting in our lives.
So, we have to always be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. We have to pray for help to the Holy Spirit, and that’s what we also see in the first reading of today’s Mass.
We see the Apostles being guided by the Holy Spirit – they pray, they work together, they reason and they debated and in the end they said: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.”
Not only their decision. It was really the decision of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helped them to make a decision.
So the gifts of the Holy Spirit are really that we all have when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, and a beautiful help to really make the right decisions in life.
So we need to listen to the Holy Spirit, we need to trust in God. He will always show us the way — even in the little decisions that we have to make. He will help us.
Our challenge is to ask him.
In the case of the disciples, they couldn’t just get together and make a decision. In our lives, we have to make decisions all the time. I always tell the confirmed that they have to make decisions every day — even just to get up in the morning. You can make the decision to stay in bed or to get up, no?
But it is important for us, if we really want to feel and be aware of God’s presence in our life, to always have that personal conversation with God. So we have to be praying all the time.
This is how we live in our world where we can see Jesus; where Jesus has gone to heaven. We live by faith and we live by prayer — prayer is the language of faith, the language that allows us to speak with God.
So prayer is so essential in our Christian life. Probably some of you have noticed that I have been talking about prayer in my columns in the Tidings lately, especially about the Our Father, which is the summary of the whole Gospel.
Prayer, my dear brothers and sisters, is God’s gift. It is an invitation to intimacy with God, our Creator, the Lord of heaven and earth.
Yes, we have the ability to be in an ongoing conversation with God. He’s listening to us, he’s attentive to our needs, but he wants us to talk to him — to ask him for whatever we need.
So let us make sure that we find time to pray every day, in our busy lives. When our day is starting, at the end of the day — find those few minutes to be quiet with God, to talk to him, to listen for his voice.
I will say that praying is much better than spending time checking our facebook page, or our phone, don’t you think? So, if we are so involved in those material things — electronic things that we have now, every day — let us think of prayer like sending a text to God. We do that all day long, don’t we have a little to send a “text” to God asking, ‘I love you,’ or ‘Help me with this thing,’ to have that ongoing conversation with him.
So Jesus has gone away but he comes to us. He is with us in every second, every minute of our lives.
So let us today, especially, have the resolution to be always in the presence of God — finding time to pray. Today we start the month of May, the month of Mary. Let us especially intensify our prayers to Mary the Blessed Mother, maybe praying the rosary as a family, maybe one mystery of the rosary — whatever it is that we can do to have that ongoing conversation with God.
Then that will help us to go out and share the beauty of our faith with the people around us, to see Jesus in each one of our brothers and sisters.
So, as we center our hearts this week on getting ready for the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, let us ask Mary, our Blessed Mother, to help us always to recognize the beautiful signs of Jesus being with us in our lives. Let us especially feel that love and presence of God in our lives every single second, and let us try to find the way to spend as much time as possible in that conversation with God. May Mary our Blessed Mother intercede for us this month of May and always.
1. Readings (6th Sunday of Easter, Year C): Acts 15:1–2, 22–29; Ps. 67:2–3, 5–6, 8; Rev. 21: 10–14, 22–23; John 14:23–29.