By Bishop David McGough
Sixth Sunday of Easter Acts 15: 1-2 & 22-29; Rev 21: 10-14 & 22-23; Jn 14:23-29 ‘If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him, and make our home with him.” The words of Jesus illuminate our sharing in the life of the Risen Lord. The reality of the Resurrection reaches far beyond what we can see and touch. Initially the risen Lord had seemed to distance himself from his disciples, admonishing them not to cling to him. Far from distancing himself from his disciples, he was leading those same disciples into an entirely new dimension of his presence.
We frequently search for God in our lives. Without finding the words to express ourselves we can feel, like the disciples on that first Easter morning, that the presence of God has gone from our lives. “They have taken the Lord, and we do not know where they have put him.” It was to the isolation of such feelings that Jesus promised a divine presence that could never be lost, that would make every believer the dwelling place of Father and Son.
Jesus linked love and fidelity to his promised indwelling. It is in loving the Lord, in fidelity to his word, that we become the dwelling place of Father and Son. Prayer awakens and expresses a love and fidelity that reveals in us a living communion with the Father and the Son. Selfless prayer is always an expression of love. Through such prayer, despite the poverty of love in our hearts, we surrender ourselves to God. This is the beginning of love. It allows us to reflect on our lives, to see ourselves in the light of God’s Word, to live in harmony with his Word. Prayer is the dialogue that surrenders itself to God, that makes of us his dwelling place. Jesus went on to describe the fruits of such. The Holy Spirit, awakening our understanding, leads us into the presence of God: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.” Through the gift of the Holy Spirit the words of Jesus take hold of our lives, healing our brokenness and leading us into the presence of God. Words about Jesus become words that raise us to new life.
We who search for the presence of God long for peace, a peace that will guard heart and mind. Jesus promised such peace
Amid this unrest let us not lose sight of the Lord
as the fruit of our communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace that the world cannot give.” We live in disturbing times for the Church. Many scandals must be addressed honestly and openly. At the heart of this unrest let us not lose sight of the Risen Lord. Only in communion with him, only when he dwells in our hearts, shall we find that peace that the world cannot give.
Jesus had spoken these words in the knowledge of the many challenges that would threaten to undermine his disciples. He knew that their peace would be threatened both by the hostility of the world and the frailty of their lives.
His reassurance to them speaks to us today. “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”