May 10, 2020 During the Pandemic Isolation
Acts of the Apostles 6, 1-7 + Psalm 33 + 1 Peter 2, 4-9 + John 14, 1-12
3:30pm at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Naples, FL
We are nearing the end of the Easter Season, and John’s Gospel has been our guide into this profound experience of the Resurrection as we have celebrated it like never before, away from our church, distanced from those who pray and worship with us faithfully week after week. John’s Gospel gives us a different Jesus than Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In some ways, they try to dazzle us with persuasive miracles, but John has no miracles, only “signs”, that are more symbolic than physical. John makes no effort to inspire hero worship. John gives us intimacy and the tenderness of love.
The relationships that Jesus talks of at the Last Supper are John’s substitute for what the other Gospel writers call the “Kingdom of God.” John wants to avoid any thought or confusion that might suggest an institution or structure. The Jesus of John’s Gospel offers a WAY of life made up of an ever-expanding web of relationships that binds us together with and in God which is exactly what we are as a Church and the People of God. Our faithfulness, care, and love for each other almost without our knowing it, binds us to God for we express and reveal God’s love as we love one another.
What Jesus offers is not a life free of suffering, not a life free of worry and trouble, not a life of ease and privilege either. He offers us a “way” a “way of life”, a way of facing suffering, a way of confronting fear, a way to handle worry, and always a way of being together in this world as we are right now even though physically separated. It is way of being in communion and a way of being in God’s world and at home with ourselves and everything in creation.
Throughout these long days of confinement many have found it difficult to be alone. I suspect that for some, this is evidence that they are not comfortable with themselves. The need to keep busy, run around and shop and be entertained every day is very inadequate way of hiding or denying the truth that we are good, we are loved, and we are special in God’s sight. We are nearing the end of a season that has invited us to reflect upon the love of God for us, an extraordinary love that moved God to send his only Son to reveal and restore the goodness with which we were created. This love is not given to make us feel special, privileged, or exceptional. It is a love given to us for life, a love that awakens us to the needs of others and empowers us to care for them.
What we proclaim today are the parting words of Jesus Christ. “Do not let your hearts be troubled” is a wonderful sentiment, but we have to realize that they don’t mean much to young couple with three little children who can’t buy groceries by their relationship with God. A widow can’t rely on her piety and prayers to provide the long-term care she needs. There is a mission that comes to us with these words. “Trust in God and trust in me” is what we hear today. It is a reminder about the ultimate victory of love. A love that turns us toward each other in compassion, commitment, service and hope. What we do is always the first expression of what we genuinely believe. Today we hear the astounding promise made to that young family and that widow, a promise that becomes for us a command. Love one another. Telling that young couple or that widow not to be afraid is useless. We are the ones who need to hear and believe that there should be no fear in us; no fear that we don’t have enough, no fear that we can’t do what is needed to bring Justice and Peace to this world, no fear or worry that we shall fail, because, with God all things are possible. The only reason that couple or that widow have to set aside their fears, is God’s promise made real in our relationship with them. They could be without fear because of us, because we know the way, and because we know the truth about who we are and what we are called to become.