Readings (Year A):
Acts 8:5 – 8, 14 – 17
Psalms 66:1 – 3, 4 – 5, 6 – 7, 16, 20
1 Peter 3:15 – 18
John 14:15 – 21
Reflection: Serve others with a joyful heart
When I reflect on the readings for the Sixth Sunday in Easter, they call to mind the importance of serving others confidently and with a joyful heart.
During the Last Supper, Christ says, “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). So, when thinking about serving others, we must remember our good works represent God’s works. When God says God will not leave people but will come to them, often, this means that we witnesses are the ones through whom God serves. For each of us, this tends to look and feel different.
In the literal sense of my life, though, I have felt drawn to help orphans. I lost my mother when I was just beginning to enter adulthood. And yet, I’d still felt blessed to have known her 19 years before she returned to God. So, for me, visiting orphanages can sometimes feel bittersweet. During my twenties, I’ve visited some on weekends as a volunteer in Mongolia. I’ve often received tremendous affection from children’s joyful grins and from their many questions about life in other countries. I return that affection as much as I can, in my expressions and in the time and attention I give them.
For, I believe a parent’s love is a special bond, so irreplaceable. It’s a constant assurance of another’s love. Yet, that confidence in another’s love is necessary for us all. So, while visiting an orphanage, I feel at times like I gift, even in the smallest ways, the love I had received from my mother and from God.
That said, while serving, I don’t always know what I should do in every moment. But that’s OK, too. For the first reading from Acts describes how those who believed received the Holy Spirit. That includes us!
So, when I serve, especially when I feel uncertain, I often pray: “Come, Holy Spirit.” And I remember: While serving others, God serves through me. My attention shifts to how God desires to do that. This gives me more peace, joy, and hope.
And when we serve, we should do so joyfully, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Peter 3:15). We ourselves must remember, we have hope because of what God does. So let that hoperadiate in all that we do.
Finally, that command asks us to explain our hope, not our service. For good service needs no explanation: It loves people well. It helps them to meet their needs and to better their lives. It has no other motive. Yet our “hope” is something people perceive when we serve well. It is evident without words. So, when I serve, I hope that those I yearn to empower feel confident from the nonverbal confidence I convey.
This Sunday, I invite you to serve conscientiously. Recognize that God, within you, serves when you aid others. And whatever results from your acts, trust that you are radiating the good to which we’re all called.