9 May 2010 6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67; Revelation 21: 10-14, 22-23; John 14, 23-29
There is only one thing that binds us all: our love for Christ. Even if we have different ways or rites of worship because of the diversity of culture and tradition, the Church recognizes this variety. For example, the Catholic Church has different ways of worship called rites. Roman Catholics use the latin or western rite which is very familiar to all of us, Filipinos. However there are other Catholics whose ways are different, such as those that belong to the Eastern Church. They use the Armenian, Alexandrian, Byzantine, Antiochian and the East Syrian rite. But they are all united or under full communion with the Holy See.
The Jews are circumcised, while the Gentiles are not. In the first reading, the first Council of Jerusalem, composed of the apostles and the elders decided that the Gentiles who converted to Christianity should not be burdened by strict Jewish practices. As we all know, we began as a small Jewish sect. With the expansion of the faith through the efforts especially of St. Paul, a question arises whether the new converts should also be circumcised. The Council of Jerusalem affirms that the Holy Spirit has also dwelt in the Gentiles, even if they are not circumcised. The disciples recognized that the Holy Spirit enabled them to see God working in the particular context of the Gentiles. Therefore they agree that what binds us all and what is necessary for salvation is our faith in the Lord.
The Gospel tells us that it is the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete which Jesus sent to us who teaches us. It is the Paraclete that guides us so that whatever we decide on viz the present issues, we will not move away from the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said, “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.”
There are things that we share as Christians. There are things that we believe as Catholics. We all fully assent to the Creed we profess every Sunday. Every single truth that the Creed includes, we do not deny and fully adhere to. All the rest flows from it.
There are many issues that have not been present during the time of Jesus. Some issues today are recent developments brought in by science. And so to know our stance on these issues, the Church reflects on how Christ will have responded to the particular issue if He is in the present world. Thus many issues need careful and informed discernment. In faith life, we believe that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are able to make the right decision with regards to the here and now.
The Philippine elections on 10 May 2010 should therefore be guided by the Holy Spirit. When we vote, we discern with all the information we need such as the life, platform and track record of the candidate. We invoke the Spirit to guide us in our choices, knowing that the practice of our right of suffrage is our contribution for the betterment of our nation. By voting for the candidates we believe would put the welfare of the nation above all else, we are able to participate in the work of the Lord in the world today.
The readings affirms two gifts: the Holy Spirit helps us find the things that unites us and the peace that we all dream of. Only when we include God in our decisions and act on it wisely will we be granted that which we all seek: a united and peaceful nation.