E7A. Acts of the Apostles 8:5-8, 14-17. The Samaritan Jewish sect was considered counterfeit or fake Jews by the Jerusalem Jews who felt that the Jewish Law could only be fulfilled in the temple in Jerusalem. For Philip to bring the Samaritan Jews to belief in Jesus as the Messiah was a great spiritual conquest. Although they were baptized in Jesus, apparently they showed none of the charismatic gifts associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. So the Apostles in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to administer what we call the sacrament of Confirmation.
John 14:23. This Gospel has a symphony of complimentary concepts or ideas. First, to love Jesus means not only to have a deep affection for him, but even more importantly, to love and obey his will or his commandments. Later in John 15:10, he says, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” And then in John 15 12, he says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.” He is not referring to the Ten Commandments but rather to the second of the two great commandments, which he changes from “Love your neighbor as you love yourself” to “Love one another as I have loved you.” Neighbor was traditionally understood as one’s fellow countryman not the foreigner. Secondly, the measure of what we ought do is what God does. As I understand what Jesus is saying here is to love as God loves, i.e. love others and yourself as God loves all of you. In Matthew 5:48 Jesus said, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” There is a growth or development from the Old Testament or Covenant to the New.
Secondly, when we have the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, living within us and we accept the life that he is giving us as our life or life force, we are said to know him, i.e., have an ever-deepening spiritual relationship with him and thereby with Jesus who reveals himself more and more to us through the Spirit. Jesus said in this Gospel, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” I presume that the words ‘on that day’ refer to the day when we receive the Spirit.
Thirdly, God the Father has a special role as he works hand to hand with the Son and Holy Spirit. Once we show that we want to grow in loving Jesus by loving his will, God the Father sends the Spirit to aid that growth. God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, loves us by enabling us to grow in holiness as God is holy to the extent that God has given us the capacity to be holy.
1 Peter 3:15-18. In this section on Christian suffering, 1 Peter 3:13-15a states, “Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ in your hearts.” Focus in on the Lord who is in your heart so to find strength and away from whatever or whomever gives you fear. 1 Peter 3:15b-16a continues, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear.” Be understanding and kind to anyone who questions you for your other-worldly behavior hoping to move them away a worldly behavior or attitude. What is awkwardly stated in 1 Peter 3:18b, “Put to death in the flesh, he has brought to life in the spirit” I believe is better stated as, “Put to death what is of the flesh by suffering in the flesh; bring to life what is in the spirit.” Perhaps a good summation is what John 15:18-19 states: “If the world hates you realize, that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”