This past Thursday we celebrated the Ascension of Jesus Christ and next Sunday we will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Christ is no longer among us in a bodily way as He once was, but He assures us that His Holy Spirit will comfort, strengthen and guide us.
Today is also the Sunday on which we commemorate the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council. We honour them for their zeal in defending the true faith, something that can seem a little out of place in our contemporary world which emphasizes tolerance and diversity. But it is important to realize why the Church insists on the need to guard the life that Christ has left us, for here we find the truth that leads us to God, allowing us to be nourished by His life.
In today’s Gospel Saint John tells us of Jesus’ prayer before His Crucifixion, in which He prays for His followers, praying that they would be kept in the truth and in unity with one another: “Holy Father, keep those You have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us.”
The truth of the Gospel and the faith of the Church is not something abstract, much less something oppressive that we need to submit to out of fear of punishment. Rather, it is the possibility of sharing in the communion of the Church, of being led to a greater participation in God’s own life. This is no abstract knowledge, but it is a knowledge that leads to life and is the cause of a great joy.