Convinced and Convicted

5.8.18  Tues. 6th wk of Easter  (II)

Acts of Apostles  16:  22 – 34

Gospel  of  John  16:  5 – 11

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’  But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.  But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.  For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.  But if I go, I will send him to you.  And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned”.        The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                            Convinced and Convicted

This weekend Bishop McElroy was here and administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 49 of our young people.  It is the same Spirit that †Jesus spoke of in our Gospel today: “I will send Him to you.  And when He comes He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation”. (Jn.16:8) This passage is oftentimes very confusing; what in the world is He talking about?  How will the Holy Spirit convict us of these things?

The Holy Spirit gives us the faith, the grace and the courage to witness to the power and love of Christ in the Holy Spirit.  We see this in the experience of Paul and Silas in our first reading as described in the Acts of the Apostles.  They remained convinced and convicted – that †Jesus would not abandon them – that any suffering they endured would result in a glorious eternity.  They were convinced of that!  After Paul and Silas preached about †Jesus, we read that the crowd attacked them; “The magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten…they threw them into prison…secured their feet to a stake.” (Acts 16:22ff)  They had put their faith on the line and they did not care about the abuse.  All that mattered was to witness to †Jesus and the power of His love.  What is remarkable is that – while in prison they sang hymns and prayed.  They were happy in prison.  That’s the Holy Spirit – because they were convinced – convicted of the power of the Spirit in their lives.

We are also called to witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is the same Spirit the apostles received at Pentecost, the same Spirit those forty-nine young people received here on Sunday morning.  It is the same Spirit that you received at your Baptism, at your Confirmation and every time you come here to receive the Eucharist; it is the same Spirit giving us that conviction.  Yet, are we really as convinced in our faith as Paul and Silas were?  We’ve got the same Spirit – but what is wrong with us?  We don’t seem to be that courageous at times – do we?  Not so much.  So many Christians in this country are afraid to wear their faith on their sleeves for fear that someone will ridicule or make fun of them.  How often do you talk about †Jesus among your friends or at home?  We obviously don’t do that very much – do we?  But if we have the Holy Spirit, if we truly embrace the gift of the Spirit, then we will not have the fear to talk about Him.

We look to the Holy Spirit who gives us the grace to “convict the world in regard to sin”, †Jesus says.   What does this mean?  It means – the Spirit gives us the grace not to cooperate with the lies that sin produces.  We live in a time where morality is relativized – ‘your truth is your truth’ – ‘my truth is my truth’ – and neither the twain shall meet.  We often live by: ‘Well, it’s O. K. to tell this little lie because ‘the end’ justifies ‘the means’.  What did the serpent tell Adam and Eve in the garden?  (questioning the students) What did the serpent say the apple would do for Adam and Eve?  ‘It would make them like God’.  Is that really possible?  No, but – there it is – that’s the lie.  So when †Jesus said that the Spirit will come to convict the world in regard to sin – it means to truly face sin and tell the truth about it – that sin seduces us away from the call to holiness.  Rather, we courageously must proclaim the death and resurrection of †Jesus – that is the remedy to sin – to the final evil in the world – and we know what awaits those who are faithful, they will live gloriously with the Lord.

The Holy Spirit, †Jesus says, gives us the grace to “convict the world in regard to righteousness”.  The Holy Spirit convinces us of the moral truth and goodness of †Jesus.  “†Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life”.  His word is trustworthy and we are to love one another just as †Jesus loves us.  But, with the Holy Spirit, †Jesus says we will have the strength to be ridiculed and persecuted by others for telling the truth.  We will even be able to walk away from friends who are gossiping.   Let me tell you: ‘That’s a hard one’. (I get that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation a lot.) ‘Well, Father, I think I … my friends were gossiping and I just didn’t say anything – but …maybe I was part of that’.  ‘Well, yeah, you were; and we must have the strength of the Spirit to walk away from that kind of situation’.  What is righteousness?  Righteousness is what †Jesus was – He was a good man, He was a fair man, and the Holy Spirit gives us that grace to be that same way.  †Jesus didn’t put up with sins like that – trying to justify them – He was a righteous man.  He always gave everyone their due, He always respected everyone.  That’s what the Spirit calls us to do as well.

Finally, the Holy Spirit gives us the grace to convict the world in regard to condemnation.  The Holy Spirit convinces us that all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God one day.  Let us always remember that our God is a loving God, a God full of goodness, but also our God is a just God; so there will be condemnation at that final judgment.  He will vindicate the innocent, and those who have suffered for the truth.  He rewards those who have embraced the image of His Son, they’re the ones who will find truth and peace and joy and love in heaven  – that eternal embrace with the Father.

Those forty-nine young people received the Holy Spirit here in a very powerful way, the final Sacrament of Initiation.  It is the same Spirit we have received, and the same Spirit the apostles received at Pentecost.   But it just seems at times, when we read the Scriptures, they seem to do a lot more with the Spirit than we do.  The Spirit is there to help us if we just embrace the Spirit.  We can do all things if we hold on to the Spirit of God, because ‘all things are possible with God’.  That’s what the Lord is telling us here.  Does the Holy Spirit make a difference in our lives?  Are we convinced of the truth of our faith?  For those who are – we have this promise in Psalm 138:

“In the presence of the angels, I will sing your praise”. (vs.1)

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.