Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138; John 16:5-11
In the Gospel today, Jesus said he has to go to the Father so the Advocate may come. The death and resurrection and ascension of Jesus is necessary for the Holy Spirit to come. This statement tells us we need to let go of our ideas of who Jesus is and be open to who he is and what he will do. At this point, the disciples still think of Jesus as the Messiah who will lead their nation to political independence. And they need to change that perspective of Jesus. We too need to change how we perceive Jesus, even if we believe him to be the Son of God, there is this tendency to still put him in a box, thinking he has to act and work in a certain way we expect. But God works in ways we do not expect. When he does, just as the death of Jesus, our world will collapse, things will change and will never be the same again. To respond to this, we need to open our minds to see what God is revealing in the events of our lives.
Jesus says when the Holy Spirit comes he will prove the world is wrong about three things:
- Sin, because they do not believe in me.
- Righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer.
- Judgment, the ruler of this world has been condemned.
The coming of the Holy Spirit reveals our sins our concept of sin. Many Catholics have the idea that our faith is about doing and not doing things, which makes it a legal relationship with God. When our faith becomes a legal relationship with God, the tendency is to ask the question: how far can I go without committing a sin. But our faith is not about doing or not doing something. It is not about how far can I go. It is about a decision to believe in Jesus or not: to trust him or reject him. Our decision determines whether we will see the righteousness of God. Righteousness is doing the right thing whatever the cost and for Jesus, the right thing is doing the Father’s will, to go through his death, resurrection and ascension, leaving the disciples to the guidance of the Church whose mission is to proclaim the Gospel, about the righteousness of God who gave his Son to redeem us because we cannot redeem ourselves. This is a life of trusting in God’s mercy, not relying on ourselves or others for salvation, but only in the merits of the death and resurrection of Jesus to redeem us. It is one that proclaims Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, Satan has no hold of us because he is condemned. Our choice for Jesus means we reject Satan and his works and his lies.
All these are the works of the Holy Spirit but we need to make a decision whether we want to trust Jesus or not.
This is what happened in the First Reading where the jailer was confronted with a decision whether he wanted to be saved or not when Paul told him: believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household. Salvation comes from God and not on our own merits.
While salvation is God’s work, it is our decision whether we want to be saved or not. The Psalm tells us: your right hand has saved me, O Lord. God cannot save us if we do not want to be saved. The Spirit can tell us how wrong we are in our perspective of sin, righteousness and justice, but if we reject that revelation, we are still in darkness.
One of the good things that come out of this pandemic is the virus respects no one. It infects the rich and the poor, the young and old, people of faith and those who do not have faith. The virus is like the Truth of God. It does not matter what I think. It acts as it should act. No amount of confidence will prevent the virus from infecting me if I am exposed to it. Similarly, the Truth of God does not depend on what I believe. It is the Truth and it cannot change. God’s mercy also works the same way. It does not depend on what I think. God’s mercy is open to all who want it, who ask for it.
Lord, I come to you with my ideas of sin, righteousness and judgment. Open my eyes, so I can see YOUR Truth about sin. Let me believe in you, Jesus. Let me trust you. Let me see the righteousness of the Father, that I will not depend on my works but on the mercy of God. I may feel shame, I may feel guilt or fear, but let me trust in your mercy. Let me also decide to reject Satan and his works, by choosing you as my Lord. Deliver me Lord from his deception, because you are all I want.