Sixth Sunday of Easter: ‘Have courage and embrace the gift of the Holy Spirit’, says Archbishop Costelloe

21 May 2020

By Theresia Titus

Archbishop of Perth Timothy Costelloe SDB has last weekend celebrated Mass for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, live-streamed from the Cathedral Parish House on 17 May. Photo: Max Hoh.

By Theresia Titus

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has encouraged Perth Catholics across the Archdiocese to bravely follow the Lord’s commandments and welcome the gifts of the Holy Spirit during the Mass for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Cathedral Assistant Priest Fr Garner Vergara Jr was also present to assist during the Mass, which was streamed live from the Cathedral Parish House on Sunday 17 May.

Archbishop Costelloe began his homily by speaking about the presence and absence of Jesus as the underlying themes occur in the readings used at Mass between Easter and Pentecost.

“This theme of the presence and absence of Jesus, which is in some ways something we are all experiencing while it is still not possible for our churches to be fully opened, is also found in today’s Gospel,” he said.

During the Mass, Archbishop Costelloe spoke about the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is much needed to face challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic Photo: Max Hoh.

The Gospel, which was set during the night of the Last Supper, told the story of Jesus preparing his disciples of challenges presently unimaginable to them when He returned to the Father and “the work of His Body, the Church, would begin”.

Archbishop Costelloe explained that what Jesus said to the disciples imposed a challenge to the disciples and also to Catholics across the Archdiocese.

“The opening words of Jesus this morning would have been a challenge to those disciples and they are a challenge to us: ‘If you love me…’,” he said.

“But Jesus goes on to finish the sentence: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’.

In other words, it is not enough to say we love him or even want to be with him – we need to show our love in action by really allowing him to be the Way, the Truth and the Life he assures us he is.

“To keep his commandments means precisely this: to let him be the way we follow; to let him be the truth to which we commit ourselves; to let him be the life which inspires and guides our own lives,” he continued.

The Perth Archbishop believes that Jesus will always be present through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Photo: Max Hoh.

Archbishop Costelloe also stated that Jesus has reiterated His words in another part of the Gospel, emphasising that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to “only those who the will” of the Father who is in Heaven.

“Christianity would be a much more comfortable religion if we could take these two sayings of Jesus, put them together, and then leave out the middle part,” he continued.

“Then we would have something like this: ‘If you love me… you will one day be with my Father who is in heaven’. This would leave us free to decide for ourselves what loving Jesus involves.

“We could leave out the challenges with which we struggle, the parts of Jesus’ teaching which constantly test us, the commandments he puts before us, and content ourselves instead with a Jesus whom we have created for ourselves rather than the true Jesus of the gospels, who asks extraordinary things of us: to love our enemies; to forgive endlessly and wholeheartedly; to love one another as Jesus has loved us; to be perfect as God our heavenly Father is perfect,” he added.

Although daunting, the Perth Archbishop believed that the call of Jesus to us is not a set of high ideals Jesus presented to us and “leave us alone to struggle to reach them and inevitable fail”, as Jesus has promised of “another Advocate” who will be with us forever, which was also the same promise made to Mary when she was “overwhelmed by what God is asking of her”.

“In the face of her confusion and doubt the Angel Gabriel spoke these words: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow’ (Luke 1:35),” he expressed.

“The gift of the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised in today’s gospel, the gift which Mary received with such trusting faith, the gift we will recall and celebrate in two weeks at Pentecost, is a gift we have already been given at our Baptism and Confirmation.

“It is a gift of power – the power to live as Jesus lived and to love as Jesus loved. It is a gift, a power, upon which we can call at any time,” he continued.

At the end of his homily, Archbishop Costelloe reminded Perth Catholics that the gift of the Holy Spirit is what we need to embrace perhaps more so now that any other times, “as we confront all the challenges, big and small, which the COVID-19 pandemic puts before us”.

“Yes, God does ask great things of us and he constantly calls to us to keep walking along the path of fidelity,” he said.

“Fortunately, God is also our Good Shepherd. If we go astray he goes looking for us until he finds us and then he brings us home. If we get tired and dispirited, he lifts us on his shoulders and carries us along.

“Just as the angel said to Mary so the Lord says to us: ‘There is no need to be afraid, I am with you – so have courage, for I have called you by your name and you are mine’,” he concluded.