If you love me you will keep my commandments

As we move through Eastertide, we begin to look forward towards Jesus’ return to his Father, and the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit will come as an Advocate, or champion, to strengthen and guide the Christian community. The Spirit will be the driving force of the early Church, in the face of difficulty and persecution. Jesus draws believers to share in the love that he himself shares with God the Father; “I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you.” This is the love that sustains us as Christians. But even in difficult times, the Church cannot only look inwards. Today’s first reading describes Philip going to preach among the Samaritans – the age-old enemies of the Jews – and receiving a joyful welcome, while, in the second reading, Peter urges the first Christians to be witnesses to their neighbours. The Church is a community of believers who are strengthened by the love of God to look both inwards and outwards: to love and support one another, and to bring the Good News to the whole world.

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