Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Homily 6th Sunday of Easter Cycle “C” May 7, 2010

          This morning I just want to reflect a bit on today’s Gospel from John.  It is kind of dense, and I think will bear some investigation.   This Gospel reminds me of eating whole crab.  Ever done that?  You have to dig into it and it is somewhat messy.  It is very good, but it is a lot of work.  You have to tear it apart.   So with this Gospel. 
          The Gospel begins:  “Jesus said to his disciples:”   ¿Where and when did Jesus say this?   This is from the 14th Chapter of St. John’s Gospel.  The setting is the Last Supper.  This is just after Jesus washed the feet of His disciples.  And then Jesus gives a long speech, called the Farewell Discourse.  And our Gospel today is a small part of that speech.  So what did Jesus say?
          “Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;”   The difference between loving and not loving Jesus is simple and straightforward:  Those who love Jesus keep His word.  Those who don’t love Him don’t.  It is not about feelings or emotions, not about beliefs or theology, not about belonging to the right church or denomination, but about actions.  It is about doing.  This love must be lived out in action.
          Jesus says:  “I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”     Will teach you “everything”??   All of history and math and geography and philosophy and art and theology?   Oh my!  You would sure be good at Trivial Pursuit! 
          Well, Jesus doesn’t mean “everything” in the sense of more and more stuff, but rather that the Holy Spirit will enable us to see the full meaning of Jesus’ teaching.  In that sense we will understand it all. 
           You remember in the Book of Genesis the serpent tempts Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In the ancient Hebrew mind to understand good and evil was to understand everything – it was to know everything.  And knowledge is power.  To understand good and evil therefore is to become like god.  Well, what was denied to humanity at its creation is now graciously and freely given in Jesus Christ.  The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
          Jesus then gives us a great gift: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give it to you.”
Jesus’ peace is not like the world’s peace, which depends on everything going right, and is merely the absence of conflict.  Jesus’ peace is much deeper and richer, and comes from inside us, from deep in our hearts, not from external circumstances.  It does not make everything go smooth and calm and easy for us.  Rather Jesus’ peace strengthens us to remain focused on Him, confident in Jesus’ care for us, assured of His Love, and so able to remain centered and calm. 
           “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”    Yehh, right.  ¿How do we do that?  Well, we have to exercise faith.  Jesus exhorts us to trust in Him.  This is personal, not just some kind of head thing.  This is not knowing about, having intellectual knowledge of Jesus, but rather personally, experientially to know Him.  This requires us to spend time with Jesus, with His Word, and to truly get to know HIM. 
          Jesus continues:  “You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’  If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;”     I am kind of surprised to hear Jesus say, “If you loved me …”    It just is not a good way to start a sentence, at least not in my experience.  Have you ever had someone say that to you?  Or have you ever said that to your spouse or parent or someone?  
  ‘If you loved me’ you would let me go to the dance, or ‘if you loved me’ you would let me go fishing, or ‘if you loved me’ you wouldn’t talk to me like that, or ‘if you loved me’ you would buy me an ipad, or whatever.   This is not a good opening. 
          But Jesus says: “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father for the Father is greater than I.”    Jesus knows that His disciples love Him, but our love is not perfect.  Jesus says this right after Jesus washes their feet to show them what other-serving love is.  The disciples at this point love Jesus, but it is an immature love, a possessive love.  They love Jesus out of their neediness.  They can’t let him go.  They are clinging.  Anyone here ever been in that kind of relationship, loving out of need and possessiveness?   Oh God who hasn’t?  Jesus is challenging us to go deeper in our love of Him, beyond neediness to genuine love.
          Jesus concludes“And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.”  Our correct response to Jesus is to believe.  AMEN

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