JESUS STANDS BY HIS PROMISES.
I don’t like saying Goodbye to people, especially if they are part of the family, or have become so, through being loyal great friends. However, Goodbyes are part and parcel of our human existence. That sounds like a cold, philosophical statement to me. So, in our homes we often have little ornaments or pictures which have been given to us by people who are ‘close‘to us, which reminds us of them!
Our photograph albums, in days gone by contained many of our closest memories. These days, we seem to take more photos than ever before…..most of them seem to be selfies! However, many others in our photos files within our Mobile phones, to the tune of thousands of pics, are not generally pics of us, but include other special people with us. We don’t look at all these pics every day, otherwise we would not have time to eat and sleep, let alone go to work! But we know where our treasured pics are! When we look at them or show them to other people, the memory of them comes alive, and we are filled with the ‘thrill’ of that memory shared. That kind of ‘thrill’ I believe is the first cousin to the experience of the two disciples after they recognised Jesus, as the Christ when He broke bread with them at Emmaus! Then upon reflection after the events on the road, coupled with The Supper, they said….’Did not our hearts burn within us as He unravelled the Scriptures to us?’
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is preparing his friends for his departure in the way in which they have known Him and loved Him. But it is also a change for Jesus, too. He will love His followers in a different way as well. But the bottom line is that it is the same Jesus whom they followed in His earthly life. It is the same Christ who revealed Himself to them after the Resurrection, and it is still the same Lord; who will reside with them in a new way, and with us for all time.
In the opening sentence Jesus says something profoundly simple…’If you love me you will keep my commandments.’ It’s not about following a set of rules, like we do the Rules of the Road; no the RULE of Jesus is much more than that! At this point we need to clarify exactly what a RULE is all about. People in Religious Orders and Congregations follow a RULE. The RULE contains the secret which makes the Order or Congregation unique, inspiring and charismatic. A Religious Order or Congregation starts with an inspiration, it starts with a person or persons who embody the particular flavour of the fledging Institute and its response to Mission! It would seem that the universal character of a Founder or Founders of Religious Institutes have some stalwart personal and spiritual characteristics; namely a real sense of being daring, optimistic in the face of pessimism and a deep relationship with the Lord. Other people who see in the Religious and their response to follow Christ in this particular way, are triggered by what they see, and what they experience, and hence it rings a bell in them to join up and be one of them. So, the RULE in Religious life contains an outpouring of what the inner life of the Founder is and what they are being called to do and be in the world. In Jesus, we see the RULE of God being lived par excellence in such a way which attracts people to follow Jesus, as the Way, the Truth and the Life in a radical way.
The RULE of Jesus is the containment of the ‘mystical inspiration’ which is alive in the Lord, and offered to us as a pure invitation to follow and become a living, walking and serving ‘mystical inspiration, in Mission!’! Our response is not about living the letter of the Law, but about ‘being’ the ‘mystical inspiration’ which is to be shared with others……so much so, to the ends of the earth! Following Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, is not just a moral highway, it is a mystical journey, en route to the Father. We are all on THE JOURNEY….we are Pilgrims on this earth, we don’t permanently belong here. In fact in the grand scheme of things, we are but a Nano second on this earth compared to the next stage for all of us…..In death, life is changed, not ended, as we read in the Preface for the Dead at the Celebration of a Funeral Mass.
Now, in order for us to be reminded and nudged along in the right direction, Jesus promises a Helper, an Advocate who will accompany us en route to the Father. Jesus says that we will be given another Advocate…..that implies that Jesus is the primary ADVOCATE; we will be given another ADVOCATE, who will embody all that Jesus has said and done, and who will creatively form us, be in us and assist us in bearing witness to our loving God. This ADVOCATE will be in essence the impelling force with us, to go out and proclaim the Good News of Salvation. This ADVOCATE will minister Gifts to us to use and ‘be’ Christ’s living Body-the Church in the world. It is precisely the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will enable us to truly love and serve, as our Servant Leader, Jesus. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the TRUTH of the Lord God as manifested through all revelation. This TRUTH is not the absence of lies and trickery, it is the very core that radiates out from the Father, in the Son, with the Holy Spirit. It is that creative, redeeming and sanctifying living element which is what the Scriptures have unfolded to us over thousands of years. This ‘core of wholesomeness’ is freely given to us if we love the Lord.
When a family member or friend goes overseas, especially when it is one whom we love, we are always quick to ask, ‘When are you coming back?’ We ask this often before they leave! That says something very deep!!!! In other words, we are saying, ‘I wish that you were not going….come back soon, because I need you here…’ Jesus anticipates, this very human and loving element within His disciples, and says that ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come back to you.’ How loving is that? Here again, Jesus manifests the loving kindness of His Father, because He and the Father are one, and the Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son. Hence, the Trinity is a loving commune, and an example, par excellence of true community. In short, when we are living the RULE of Jesus ‘in love’, we are participating in the life of the Trinity, and in fact we then become a living answer to part of The Lord’s Prayer…’Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’
Finally, Jesus says that when we live the RULE of the Lord God in love, we share in the intimate life that Jesus shares with His Father….In the Gospel extract for today, Jesus says, ‘On that day you will understand that I AM in my Father, and you in me and I in you.’ Notice that in the last quote, Jesus says, ‘On that day’. The curious side of me asks…..what day is that?? According to the above Scripture, it would seem that THE DAY could well be when Jesus returns in Glory! Or moreover, THE DAY could well be the moment of our transition in death for each of us, when life is changed, not ended. Is the knowing of THE DAY, a big deal in any case? For some, it has been, and is, and will continue to be very important….but when the chips are down, I think that we have much more to think about, pray about, reflect on in living the RULE of Jesus, and THE DAY will look after itself. What do you think?
What can we do to continually reform ourselves in living the RULE of Jesus? Firstly, as I have said, we are not talking about rules…..the RULE of Jesus is the inspirational text, and the person who is Jesus, who contains the ‘core of wholesomeness’ He is the secret to our life as individuals and our corporate life in God. God’s Word is always ALIVE, EVERGREEN and TIMELESS. ‘Lord, what are you saying to me through your WORD, how can I reform myself to be an enfleshed edition of your Good News?’ We need to be nourished through Sacramental experiences where we come together as a group…a community regularly and celebrate our oneness in Eucharistic Praise and Thanksgiving. Just like any loving relationship, our bond with Jesus, the human face of the Father, embraced within the life giving Spirit needs conversation…… Not just yapping to God! My pet Parrot can do that! No, it is in restful listening, it is sometimes within ‘silence’ that we can humbly utter…..’Speak Lord, your Servant is listening.’
Fr Kevin Walsh
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