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6th Sunday of Easter (C)

Everlasting peace on the way

By Anne Marie Richardson

JOHN 14:23–29

“To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” That old saying came to mind when I read this week’s gospel passage, for Jesus had said to His disciples, “I have told you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe” (Jn 14:29).

As He starts to prepare His disciples for the eventuality of His brutal demise, Jesus shows that there are consequences to our actions. He clearly states to them and to us, “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. Those who do not love me do not keep my words” (Jn 14: 23–24a)

At this time, His promise to them continues to confirm the fact that He and the Father are one and that He and the Father would take up residence in those who continue in their love for Him.

All of this must have been a difficult teaching for these men to comprehend. We are now into the Last Supper discourses in which Jesus seeks to comfort and assure them as He prepares them for His coming departure.

They are fearful and confused by all that they are hearing, but He seeks to reassure them that, no matter what, there is a purpose in the coming disastrous events that revolve around Him.

Then He says, “You heard me say: I am going away, and shall return.” But there is a grim sense of foreboding within them as His gentle revelations unfold. What is He talking about? What is going to happen now? Where is He going?

Jesus continues to comfort them with His peace, that peace that He alone could give.

In those troublesome and confusing times, what was that peace that He was speaking of? Today, we are faced with the peace of the world – it is a state in which we feel that we are at peace when we possess ‘the best of everything’ – all that money could buy, the best car, house, electronics. We have the best job and loads of money in the bank. We have all the creature comforts that the world could offer, but there is no real, deep, internal peace.

Without our realising it, we seem to have sacrificed true peace for the methods or strategies we used to obtain our creature comforts. Was God present with us and was He directing our journey as we sought to obtain our physical satisfaction? What of our spiritual satisfaction?

There is a culture of relativism that exists today; the world has led us to believe that everything is relative to our individual situation, so we are made to believe that we can manipulate the Word of God to suit our individual circumstance, thus making our actions totally justifiable to us.

We have killed our consciences so that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit’s presence is suppressed in the infertile soil of our hearts. So many of us seem no longer disposed to inculcating His Word that leads us to prioritise the things of God over the things of the world.

It is when “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name” – as yet unknown to the disciples – is allowed to indwell us that we would achieve that peace that Jesus offered His troubled disciples at that time.

It is an everlasting peace that is available to each one of us through the ages; it is that peace “which is beyond our understanding” (Phil. 4:7), but it will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. It is there for all of us who sincerely open our hearts to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

As we approach Pentecost, we pray earnestly for that indwelling. “Lord, fill me with Your Spirit.”

The gospel meditations for May are by Anne Marie Richardson, a retired educator, and a parishioner of the Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster.