Sixth Sunday of Easter – A
An elderly couple was sitting in the parking lot of a large shopping center. The hood was up on their car. They had engine trouble.
A young man pushing a shopping cart came towards then and shouted, “You shouldn’t be allowed to drive at your age!” And then he loaded his sporty new vehicle and drove off.
A stranger approached and said, “Looks like you are having a problem. I don’t know much about cars but I will go and get you some help.”
Returning with a tow truck, the stranger began a conversation with the old man. He noticed that they were both wearing rings that indicated their service in the United States Marine Corps. Both retired, they discussed where they had served and how they were doing now.
When the car was all hitched to the tow truck, the old gentleman thanked the stranger and handed him a card. After they left, he looked at that card and saw that the elderly man was a member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
And he was so glad that he had stopped to help one of America’s heroes.
Today’s Gospel takes place during the Last Supper. Jesus had given His Apostles His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. He had washed their feet. Judas had departed to betray Him. Now Jesus tells the Apostles that He will soon be leaving them.
He says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”
“Another Advocate” – the phrase literally means “one who comes alongside to assist.” That elderly couple with car trouble was helped by the retired Marine when they needed someone “to come alongside to assist.” Maybe some “needful moment” is here right now with you.
Next Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension, when Jesus goes back to heaven and sits at His Father’s right hand. The following week is the Feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes down upon the Apostles and they carry the message of Jesus to the world. Pentecost is the close of the Easter season.
So in the Gospel today we hear Jesus getting us ready for His departure. “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” This Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will “come alongside to assist.”
How does the Holy Spirit “come alongside to assist?” You might think about a time in your life when things were pretty difficult, and you prayed. And maybe you didn’t get the answer you were expecting and you complained, “Where are you, Lord? Why aren’t you helping me?”
But perhaps now you can look back over your shoulder and can see that God was with you all along. And that if you hadn’t gone through that tough time, you might not be the person that you are today.
All along God was with you, helping you to become an even better disciple and enabling you to become more aware of the needs of others – and perhaps even being God’s answer to their prayers.
There is a wonderful classic story that has meat on its bones and gives us food for thought, even if we have heard it before.
There was a man in a town where the flood waters were on their way. He was out on his porch when a rescue truck drove by and the driver invited him to get in. But the man said, “No, God will take care of me. I’m staying with my house.”
A while later, as the waters were rising, a boat came by. The man was looking out the window on the second floor. The boat driver said, “Get on board.” The man replied, “No, God will take care of me. I’m staying with my house.”
A bit later the man was on his rooftop and a helicopter flew overhead and dropped a line. “Grab hold of this rope and we will rescue you.” And the man said, “No, God will take care of me. I’m staying with my house.”
And the man drowned. Standing before Almighty God he said, “I prayed to you. Why didn’t you answer me?”
And God looked at him and said, “You fool! I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter. What more could I have done.
It is an old story, but it does drive home a point. God is with us – “alongside us” – even when we don’t recognize God’s answer to our prayers.
And so often God works through us “to come alongside” someone else and be God’s answer to their prayers.
“I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”
God is faithful to us.
What an awesome God we serve!