Reflection for Sunday – May 21, 2017
Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3: 15 – 18; John 14: 15 – 21
Preacher: Sister Mary Ann Brunett, SSJ
The parting of friends, loved ones, is never easy, especially if you will never see them again. Just a year ago I received a call that one of my brothers had died. It was very sudden and unexpected. We had been very close. It was not only a shock but also a great loss.
Perhaps in an effort to ease their future pain, when Jesus knew his time was coming to an end, he tried to put into words what was important for his disciples to know and do after he was gone. At their Last Supper together Jesus said to them “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Rather than being about keeping a specific set of commands, John’s Gospel refers to how Jesus wanted them to live after he was gone—a life as he did, in obedience to his Father.
This is a life of listening to God’s word in one’s heart… praying about it… responding to it…putting it into action—not out of fear, but out of love. It is living a life of radical faith—of radical love—without counting the cost to self. It is about loving one another as Jesus had loved the disciples—as Jesus loves us.
At the core of the Good News of Jesus Christ is God’s unconditional love for each one of us. We each have both wheat and weeds, beauty spots and blemishes, strong points and negative ones. And God loves us just as we are! This is often hard for us to believe. But think of how parents love their children regardless of the ups and downs of what that relationship may entail.
Core to being disciples of Jesus is doing our best to respond to God’s love for us as Jesus responded to the love of the Father for him.
We’ve all heard actions speak louder than words. It is not enough to say we love God; that we love one another. Real love is shown in both.
Remember the scene from “Fiddler on the Roof”? Tevya asks his wife, Golda, “Do you LOVE me?” Golda yells out to Tevya “What is this love stuff? After 25 years of scrubbing your floor, fixing your food, raising your children….” “Yes,” says Tevya, “but do you love me?” Golda relents and says “I suppose I do.” Tevya sighs in relief, “After 25 years, it’s nice to know.”
Golda always loved Tevya. She did not love him because she did all those things. She did all those things because she loved him. Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Keeping these commands does not make us love Jesus. Rather, we keep his word as an expression of our love for him.
It has never been easy to live as a disciple of Jesus, and it certainly hasn’t become easier in our day. That is why Jesus said he would never leave us on our own. He promised to be with us always. He keeps his promise by asking the Father to give us an Advocate who will be our helper, comforter, guide, source of love. This Spirit, this Advocate, this Paraclete, dwells within us. This Spirit is within the heart and soul—the very fabric of our being. We are never truly alone.
This Spirit gives us guidance and strength in times of indecision and weakness; enlightenment in darkness. The Spirit motivates us to be faithful to the promises made at our Baptism to continue the work of Jesus as did Philip, Peter and the early disciples. Our “task” is to write our own Gospel with the uniqueness of who we are and the gifts God has given us. It is making God—Jesus Christ—visible in this world by who we are and by what we do. To use Paul’s words, “this is more than we could ever ask for or even imagine.”