|by Angela Lambert|
May 1st, 2016; 6th Sunday of Easter
Gospel John 14:23-29
Jesus said to his disciples: “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; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “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. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 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; for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”
“As the world gives” tends to leave a person bitter and disillusioned. It begins with promises of security and pleasure but lacks real permanency or loyalty. After awhile we even struggle to relax during periods of calm, worrying that it won’t endure long. Nothing seems to last and this causes anxiety in good times and in bad.
The philosopher Pascal lamented that man is but a feeble reed, easily brought to its end by the smallest ailment. Most of our lives, he asserts, are spent trying to distract ourselves from the unsettling dread we feel when we take time to think about the purpose of our lives or the reality of our mortality. He concludes that this universal experience supports the fact that happiness can be found in God alone:
|“All men seek happiness. This is without exception…And yet after such a great number of years, no one without faith has reached the point to which all continually look. All complain, princes and subjects, noblemen and commoners, old and young, strong and weak, learned and ignorant, healthy and sick, of all countries, all times, all ages, and all conditions…A trial so long, so continuous, and so uniform, should certainly convince us of our inability to reach the good by our own efforts.” Pascal Pensees|
Pope Francis observed that we have created an entire “throwaway culture,” marked by the readiness to discard even relationships and people as soon as they become inevitably difficult. Consequently, he says, people begin to despair and make the assumption that they will never experience unconditional love. Because they have never experienced mercy, they conclude that they never will. As a result, they struggle in the darkness of sin, feeling alone and without the possibility of healing.
|“The fragility of our era is this, too: we don’t believe that there is a chance for redemption; for a hand to raise you up; for an embrace to save you, forgive you, pick you up, flood you with infinite, patient, indulgent love; to put you back on your feet. We need mercy.” Pope Francis, The Name of God is Mercy|
Christ however offers the peace every human soul longs for – permanent, deep, and healing. Moreover, we do not have to chase after it like a greyhound that will never catch the rabbit. Rather, Christ bestows His peace freely as a fruit of His unconditional love. To receive this peace we merely need to enter into a relationship of love with Him. Relationship with Christ is merciful and enduring. Jesus doesn’t throw us away when we become difficult or even when we betray Him. He persists in pursuing us, binding our wounds, and transforming our hearts. His greatest pain, he revealed to St. Faustina, is our lack of trust in Him. To Mother Teresa, He said, “I thirst”; meaning He thirsts for our souls and relationship with us.
Relationships are risky – they require two people to both freely choose to love one another. No matter how faithful, how loving, how sacrificial one partner is willing to be, if the other walks away the relationship ends. Christ is the ultimate risk taker. He loves us no matter what, even if that love is unrequited. Moreover, the partner who walks away suffers the greatest loss because he or she closes himself off from the riches of the other partner’s love. When we walk away from Christ, we close ourselves off from the love He longs to bestow upon us.
Jesus offers peace, love, and joy. All we must do is live in a loving relationship with Christ. To do this He says, we must follow His commands. We live in a wounded world confused about authentic love. Jesus teaches us through His commands and offers the perfect example for us to imitate.
We can chase after the illusion of love or embrace the God who is love. If we choose the latter, God will dwell within us and our joy will be complete. It feels more risky because it’s harder to see at first. Ultimately however, it’s the soundest reality and truest love.
- Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” What do you allow to cause you anxiety and fear? Surrender each thing to the Lord and entrust your concerns to Him.
- Reflect on the love of Christ. Consider the freedom and joy experienced by the saints in every generation for the last two thousand years.
- Reflect on how Christ has blessed you over the course of your life. Then reflect on how He has blessed you this week. What needs has He met? What has He conquered for you? When have you felt the embrace of His love? When have you experienced His beauty or glory?
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Examine your day each night or morning. Thank God for His blessings. Recognize when He came to your aid. Identify when you failed to love Christ or your neighbor and ask for Jesus’ help to do better the next day.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016
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