Sunday, May 25, 2014

Guide, Friend, Counselor, Comforter: the Holy Spirit

Readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter 2014:

Sixth Sunday of Easter 2014

By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
May 25, 2014

In an anonymous e-mail, we are told a story we need to hear on this Memorial Day weekend. It's about an old man and his wife sitting in the parking lot of a supermarket. The hood is up on their car. Evidently they were having engine problems.

A young man in his early 20s with a grocery bag in his arms walks in the direction of the older couple. The older gentleman emerges from his car and takes a few steps in the young man's direction. He points to the open hood and asks the young man for assistance. The young man puts his grocery bag into his expensive SUV, turns back to the old man and yelled at him: "you shouldn't even be allowed to drive a car at your age." And then with a wave of his hand, he gets into his car and speeds out of the parking lot. The old gentleman pulls out his handkerchief, mops his brow and goes back to his car. Again he looks at the engine. He then goes to his wife and appears to reassure her that everything will be okay.

A stranger approaches the old man. "Looks like you're having a problem," he says. The old man smiles sheepishly, and quietly nods his head. The stranger looks under the hood of the car, but he has no more expertise with engines than the old man.

He assures the elderly gentleman he will return and heads to a nearby service station. He explains the situation to a mechanic saying he will pay him if he would help the elderly couple with their car.

Returning with a mechanic, the stranger gets into a conversation with the old gentleman. The stranger is wearing a ring signifying that he had been a Marine. Coincidentally, so had the old man. He confides that he had served in some of the harshest battles in our nation's history, including Guadalcanal in Okinawa. He retired from the Marine Corps after the war.

After the car was repaired and running, the old gentleman handed a card to the stranger and shook hands and parted. Little while later the stranger happened to look at card and the name of the old gentleman was on the card in gold leaf and under his name was written: Congressional medal of honor Society. It was only then that the former Marine realized that he had come to the aid of one of America's heroes.

This, just a reminder that this Memorial Day weekend there are men and women who have served their country, and received very little in return. It is only right we recognize their sacrifice and honor their memory this holiday weekend. And with much sadness we hear of the scandal at the VA Hospitals across our country.

Our gospel for today is of a loving relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and how this relationship extends to all of humanity with a simple admonition: "if you love me, and keep my commands, I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever-- the Spirit of truth. With a further promise: I will not leave you as orphans; for I will come to you before long.

Another Story:

A man who underwent open-heart surgery told his friend about his experience. He said, "the day before surgery a nurse came into my room to visit she took hold of my hand and told me to feel it and to hold it."

"Now, she said, "during the surgery tomorrow you will be disconnected from your heart and you will be kept alive only by virtue of certain machines. When your heart is finally restored and the operation is over and you are recovering, you will eventually awaken and a very special room. You will be immobile for as long as six hours. You may be unable to move, or speak, or even to open your eyes, but you will be perfectly conscious. You will hear and you will know everything that is going on around you. During those six hours I will be at your side and I will hold your hand, exactly as I'm doing now. I will stay with you until you are fully recovered. Although you may feel absolutely helpless, when you feel my hand, you will know that I will not leave you."

It happened exactly as the nurse told me, the man continued. "I awoke and could do nothing. But I could feel the nurse's hand in my hand for hours and that made all the difference in the world.

Similarly this happen to me some months ago when getting up in the morning, attempting to get dressed I knew I was in trouble. I know I shouldn't use names, but in this case I feel it necessary. I called Connie and asked her to call Dr. Jim from next door and Maria Minette that I needed their help. In a very short time they came to my aid and stayed with me all morning. To say that I was and am grateful is an understatement, but much like the old man whose hand was being held by a nurse I felt their comfort, their concern and their love.

It does make a difference when someone comes along side us when we are in need. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. In some instances the Holy Spirit comes with power. At other times the Holy Spirit comes as a guide. But there are times when we need a friend, counselor, comforter. Then the Holy Spirit served in these capacities as well. But why did Jesus say, "I will give you another advocate."

The writer of John wants us to understand that the same Spirit that was in Christ is a Spirit that will be with us in our time of need. John is very clear that this is why Christ departed from this world so that his Spirit could be available to every person in this world who opens himself or herself to him. This is the importance of the Trinity. The same Spirit that created this world became flesh and Jesus Christ returns on the day of Pentecost to make available to every believer, with guidance, comfort, and empowerment, also for clarity of mission and for strength as we seek to be Christ's people. All this is wrapped up in that short phrase, "and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever."

You all be Good, Be holy and Preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words!

'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.

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