Sixth Sunday of Easter. Ninth week of quarantine. Rumblings and reopenings. New beginnings. And the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John whispering promises of a future bright with presence.
Gospel JN 14:15-21
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
In the midst of this pandemic, there is a certain poignancy to Jesus’ promise not to leave us, and to the idea that he is in us, and we are in him. It is confided with the certainty of truth, and it dares us to face underlying realities. Because Jesus is not talking about the worries that consume us or the fears that are devouring us. Instead, he is talking about the idea of presence within each other, being for and about each other. It is the mingling of the human and the divine, and he is promising that.
In a time overwrought with deaths and loss, with fear and divisiveness, Jesus is speaking of an idea so startingly simple it is genuinely profound. Love transcends all the barriers, eliminates the conflcits, empowers possibility. Love is real; it exists within each of us. Love is of God, sustained and nurtured by God. Jesus does not labor here with promises of success or predictions fo achievements. Instead, He promises presence, connection: love. There is nothing more important than that.
Love lives because of the Spirit of Truth. Confined as we are to digital reality, it would be easy to choose what is virtual. But this week, in this Gospel, Jesus is giving us much more than that. He acknowledges that the Spirit of Truth belongs to the each of us, the very ordinary believers. He cautions that the world cannot accept this because the world cannot accept him. That opens the question of choice, of decision and choosing to look at Jesus and to consider the Spirit of Truth. And perhaps that is the real challenge.
Stumbling through quarantine, through life itself, we can choose to forego the awareness of the divine, of love, of somehow being part of God and part of one another. Love breathes hope into painful moments, comfort in devastation, clarity in confusion. Love invites us beyond what is to what can be. Dare to choose love.