Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sixth Sunday in Easter

Year A

Sixth Sunday of Easter


Holy spirit

Points to note

This Sunday’s reading is an opportunity to introduce the sacrament of confirmation.  This is especially relevant to those who have already received Holy Communion and for whom, Confirmation is the last sacrament of initiation yet to be received.

It is not recommended to go too much in depth into the sacrament itself as that will anticipate the preparation for the sacrament.  The reading itself concentrates on Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit, emphasising the fact that the promise was made in love.

Avoid getting too entangled in the reading itself, as it can be a rather confusing one on a single read through.  To go through the reading to ensure proper understanding of it is outside the time scope of this Liturgy of the Word.  The reading should be a backdrop to the themes to be discussed.  Nevertheless, sufficient attention must be given to the reading to accord it the importance and respect it deserves as the Word of God.



Acclamation before the Gospel

Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Jesus said: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him.”


Explain to the children that at the Last Supper, Jesus has just prophesied the treachery of Judas and the denials of Peter.  The apostles were disheartened and Jesus was quick to console them.

The Lord be with you.
All:   And with your spirit.

A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All:   Glory to you O Lord
(Jn 14: 15-21)
Jesus said to his disciples:
     “If you love me you will keep my commandments; 
     I shall ask the Father,
     and he will give you another Friend to be with you for ever,
     it is the Spirit of truth whom other people can never receive
     since they do not see or know him, but you know him,
     because he is with you, he is in you.
     I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.
     In a short time I will no longer be here;
     but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
     On that day you will understand that I am with my Father
     and you with me and I with you.
     Anybody who receives my commandment and keeps them
     will be one who loves me,
     and anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father,
     and I shall love him and stay with him.”

This is the Word of the Lord


Have you ever had a visit from an uncle or aunt from far away?  Sometimes, they give presents before going away.  Discuss the presents they may give.  Sometimes it is a present that is of use to us.  Sometimes it is a present to console us when we are sad that they are leaving.  Sometimes it is a present that will remind us of them.  Sometimes they leave us their address so that we could write to them.

The original Greek word that I have translated as ‘Friend’ in the reading does not translate well into English.  It refers to the Holy Spirit and various versions of the Bible translate it differently.  The most common translation is ‘counsellor’ while the Catholic Missal renders it as ‘advocate’.  Other translations include ‘comforter’ and ‘intercessor’.  In truth, the Greek word means all these and probably a little more.  Quite appropriately therefore, the gift Jesus left us cannot be adequately expressed in the English language.

Explain that Jesus, too, left a gift to his disciples, the Holy Spirit.  Explain the nature of the gift in the light of what was discussed on presents by the departing uncles and aunts.  The present is of use to us:  the Holy Spirit will help us and advise us.  The present will comfort us.  The present will remind us of Jesus.  The present will enable us to contact God:  he is our intercessor.

There is one time in the life of a Catholic Christian that he celebrates receiving this gift from Jesus.  We call that Confirmation.  Explain that only baptised Catholics aged 15 and above may receive the sacrament of Confirmation.  Ask if any of the children has seen such a celebration.  Describe what happens:  the bishop places oil on the forehead of the confirmant and lays his hands on the head of the confirmant.  The bishop then prays that the Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmant.  Upon confirmation, the confirmant becomes a full member of the Church and may now, among other things, seek to be ordained, be a godparent and be married in the Church.

If there is time, discuss the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and respect for the Lord. 

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