The Spirit Of Truth Amidst Uncertainty
Readings: Acts 8, 5-8.14-17; Ps 66, 1-3.4-5.6-7a.16.20; 1 Pt 3,15-18; John 14,15-21
The word of God for us on the 6th Sunday of Easter invites us to reflect on Jesus’ concern for those He left in the world. Thus, we contemplate Jesus’ concern for us who are in the world with all its challenges. It is important to note that the followers of Christ are in the world and form part of it, but they are not of the world (see John 17, 13-17). Christians do not conform to the spirit, values and ideologies of the world. They live according to the values of Christ because they have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Not left as orphans
We are all aware of the dangers that orphans are exposed to when they don’t have anybody to protect them and defend their rights. An orphan is one without a parent, but orphan can refer to a student without a master. Jesus gathered friends around Himself. He was their teacher and master. When He was arrested and crucified, the Scriptures were fulfilled: “Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Zechariah 13, 7). Indeed, the sheep were scattered. His friends deserted him and tried to go back to their formers ways of life. The Risen Lord took it to be his responsibility as the good shepherd to look for his friends in order to restore their shuttered hopes. When He appeared to them, He gave them His Spirit. He does not leave them as orphans with no one to care for them. In today’s gospel reading (pre-resurrection), He assures His disciples that the Father will give them the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. The best translation for Paraclete (Gk = one who is called in/on) is that of a companion, counsellor or advocate. This is the Spirit of truth with which we have been endowed. Jesus knew that His friends were to face challenges in the world. He gave them an ever-present companion to guide and to advise them so that they take the right decisions on the journey of life. The Holy Spirit assists us in our discernment amidst the many spirits in the world. We ought to distinguish life-giving spitits from the tactics of the evil one. This is what St. Paul invites us to do: “Test every spirit” (Romans 15, 13).
Spirit of Truth amidst conspiracy theories
Ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, the world has faced many other viruses like hunger, unemployment and etc. Among the viruses, are the conspiracy theories that can be referred to as the “global misinformation pandemic” spreading as rapidly as the coronavirus itself. Do you wish to know what is making rounds in the social media? Some of the conspiracy theories are: Covid-19 as God’s punishment, Blaming the 5G, Vaccine propagators as scapegoats, the Coronavirus escaping from Chinese laboratories, covid-19 as a biological weapon, Covid-19 imported into China, GMOs to blame, non-existence of Covid-19, pandemic manipulated by the ‘deep state’, Covid-19 as a plot by Big Pharma, Covid-19 death rates being inflated, herbs to treat Covid-19, Africans being more resistant etc.). Many of these are meant to give an explanation but in the end they are a source of confusion. Everybody seems to be an expert either in ascertaining the cause or pointing to the possible remedies. Some awaken hopes whereas others throw people into a state of hopelessness. Some theories seem not to be incompatible with neither science nor faith. Some of these theories expose the brokenness of our human systems.
Being in the world, means that Christians are not immune to the world challenges. We share the joys and sorrows of the world. In a way, we are part of the world. But the fact remains that Christians don’t conform fully to the values of the world. Jesus invites us to remain in Him and be docile to His life-giving Spirit that dwells in us. When Christians are brought in front of the judgement seat of worldly challenges, the Holy Spirit is their advocate. We ask for this openness to the Holy Spirit so that we may be guided through this current pandemic without distorting our image of a loving father and without creating scapegoats for this challenge which has rendered everybody powerless. Of course, it remains an imperative that nobody should, out of selfish interests, exploit the current pandemic for self-advancement. Instead, the Spirit dwelling in us should prompt us to render a Christian contribution towards the containment of the current pandemics. Our contribution is that of a faith-based hope and effective solidarity.
Called to give hope
Whereas many conspiracy theories spread fear and panic, Christians are called upon “to give an account for the hope that is in us.” (See today’s second reading 1 Peter 3, 15-18). This calls for recognition, that suffering is part of this process. Jesus himself gave meaning to suffering. His endurance of the cross led Him to the glory of the resurrection. The current situation invites us to exercise patience and prudence. Quick-fix answers may drown us into worse situations. A spirit-guided journey will strengthen us to bear with the unavoidable hardships and deprivations (like limited movements). Let us fix our eyes on the Risen Lord. He has assured us: “Because I live, you will live also!” We are proclaiming this truth with gentleness and reverence as advised by Peter, because we need to collaborate with many who are concerned about the common good of humanity. Our common prayer should be: “Send your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the earth!” In the meantime, let us support all the initiatives that are meant to stand especially with the poor. No one should be left to lead an „orphan-like” life. We are one another’s keepers.