6th Sunday of Easter (B) 2018

‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.’
Jesus of Nazareth was sent to us by God, our Father and Creator, so that the love and joy which resides within the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – be shared with you and I, and reside in us always.
This is what true religion means.
So any religion or religious teaching that deliberately fosters or promotes fear or unhappiness is false religion.
So also any interpretation of the Bible which promotes fear of God ( that is fear as in fear of violence, fear of deliberate punishment, fear of imposed pain etc.) is a wrong interpretation of the Bible and needs to be restudied and reinterpreted.
As an aside it is important to note that our understanding of the Bible is an ongoing process. Scripture scholars are continually having new or fuller insights into our present understanding of the Scriptures. This will, and should continue to be welcomed by us and not treated with automatic suspicion or rejection.
It is important to note that many of us, consciously or unconsciously, harbour a residual fear of our God and an inherited doubt regarding the totality of God’s goodness, mercy and love for us.
It is good for me to recognise this condition in which I find myself and continually ask my God to free me from it, as it is a subtle ploy of the ‘Evil One.’
This joy about which we read in today’s gospel reading, which comes from God and is a gift of God, is not dependent on the earthly condition in which I find myself at any particular time. It must go much deeper than everyday events be they joys or sufferings. It must be based on the total trustworthiness, veracity, mercy and love of my God and a looking forward in great hope to resurrection from death and a sharing in the Eternal life of my God.
This is something that the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth understood well.
We are told of the apostles; ‘So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name.”
And again of St Paul; “This man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites, and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
There are no promises of a comfortable ride here !!!