Newsletter – 6th Week of Eastertide
In today’s Gospel, we hear a portion of Scripture that comes near the end of the first four chapters that make up Jesus long farewell discourse at the Last Supper. Jesus is preparing his disciples in advance for his absence so that they will continue to believe in him and not feel alone or afraid after his return to the Father. He is preparing his disciples in advance for his absence. After the initial excitement of his Easter appearances, Jesus will remain with his followers in a very different way through the centuries. As our celebration of the Easter season draws to a close, the liturgy reminds us that Jesus remains with us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises his disciples that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit who will teach us everything we need to know, to remind us of all that Jesus taught and brings us peace.
Recently I have been re reading the Rule of St Benedict and one of my favourite lines from the Rule of St. Benedict reads: “As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.” This always reminds me that we were born out of Love, and we are called to Love one another just as God loves us. As followers of Christ in our Christian discipleship and witness in the world we are called to be people who are loving, and merciful, with hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. Jesus highlights two characteristics in today’s Gospel of Christian love: generosity and courage.
Jesus calls his followers to love generously. Jesus tells the disciples, “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father …” This type of generous, expansive love can be really challenging to practice. Of course, we want our dearest of friends to live into the fullness of their callings. We know that their whole purpose in life does not revolve around us. Other people are not ours to possess. Still, the departure of a dear friend can evoke difficult feelings. How will the relationship change when we are not together every day? Will we still be as close?
It’s easy to imagine the disciples asking difficult relational questions as their dear friend Jesus prepares to be assumed into heaven. Still, a generous spirit and a hurting heart can coincide in one body. Jesus calls the disciples to move through this transition with generosity. Rejoice that I have accomplished my life’s work. Rejoice that I am going to the Father. Rejoice that I will take you with me, for where I am you will also be.
Jesus calls his followers to love courageously. Jesus tells the disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Now, I don’t think Jesus expects his followers to never feel these profoundly human emotions. The Son of God knows better than anyone that hard things happen to each of us in life. Hearts get hurt. Sin and suffering remain strong forces in our world even with the promises of Easter. For it remains an important fact that we can never really know the resurrection of Christ if we ignore the cross of Christ.
To get to resurrection, we must move through the cross. Suffering and death, hope and resurrection, are always part of the same story. Jesus calls us to move through the crosses of our lives with courage. Courage does not erase suffering. Rather courage recognises human hardship and says: move forward anyway. Feel troubled and move forward anyway. Feel afraid and move forward anyway. You can do it. You are never alone. My Spirit is with you always.
With my prayer and best wishes to you and to your families,
Your parish priest and friend,
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