Just a Word – Seventh Sunday of Easter 2020

Just a word… Seventh Sunday of Easter… May 24, 2020

Can we think about today’s Gospel as Jesus’ last will and testament? In a way, that is exactly what it is. We are privileged to overhear Jesus’ prayer to his Father, on the night before he was to die. The theologian John Shea says that “prayer is more a response to God’s presence than an attempt to contact that presence.” We can see that clearly here, as Jesus’ intimacy with his Father is on full display. He knows his Father is with him always.

The gospel writer John presents us with a theologically rich perspective on the life of Jesus. He employs the word “glorify” many times, which can be misleading in our connotation of that word. In this instance, to glorify means not to achieve fame or material accomplishment, but rather refers to the fulfillment of a mission. Jesus is telling his Father that he has done his will, he has exemplified a new way of being, and a new way of being in community. Jesus doesn’t view his impending death as an end to his influence, or as abandoning his disciples, but rather as saying good-bye to his followers and leaving behind gifts. Specifically, the gift of eternal life for all who choose it; the gift of his message in words and example; the gift of his body and blood to nourish them, and us.

Jesus’ legacy challenges us to radically change the way we love ourselves and others, to be in the world, but not of it, because we are the Father’s own, as he is. We share in his life, and we share in the mission he bequeathed to us – we are commissioned to tell the story to others, to spread divine love in the world.

How are we to do that, in these troubled times, when we can’t be together? Perhaps an answer lies in our own backyards…wherever we are, with whomever we come into contact, in whatever reduced circumstances we find ourselves, we can still reach out to others…by phone, over the fence 6 feet away, by sending an email, by launching a face time, by sending a note in the mail, by supporting a food pantry. You get the picture… by getting out of ourselves, by getting out of the way, God can work in us and through us, to spread divine love and hope to others. And isn’t that how we build a new way of being in community? And isn’t that how we honor the gifts we have been given?

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