RCL Year C, Easter 6
Acts 16:9-15, Psalm 67, Revelation 21:10 and 22–22:5, Saint John 14:23-29
Today’s Gospel draws from Jesus’ farewell discourse, his good-bye, to his disciples before his glorification: the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He tells them before the Day of Pentecost and us long after the Day of Pentecost to keep his word if we love him. He assures us that the Holy Spirit will be present to teach and to guide us in pathways of peace. And he warns us of the presence of evil in our midst while we await his return.
What does this mean for us, today, to believe what Jesus has to say to us? If we believe, will we be counted among God’s own when Jesus returns? The ones who will be counted among God’s own will be the ones who love their lives because of God’s marvelous acts on behalf of humanity. They are the acts of salvation chronicled in the Scriptures and the acts of salvation each of us knows through his own experience.
I talked recently with someone who has lost his job. He already has another, and he is excited about it—so bread on the table is not the issue. The issue is why it happened to him, who had done well and had been recognized to do well. I believe he was saved; he was delivered. He was being saved from something far worse.
That vision we have in the Second Lesson today—the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven—that city with the river of the water of life, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding all year round, and the leaves of the tree which are medicines and heal the nations—that is where we live now. We have only to recognize it and give thanks to God for it. I know a preacher who substitutes the name of his city for Jerusalem—the holy city of New York, for example, to make a point: we have received already the promises Jesus makes to the disciples in Today’s Gospel. We have only to recognize it and to give God thanks for it.
We daily enjoy the fruits of God’s providence, here and now. We walk protected by God in the midst of our troubles and our griefs, here and now. We receive unmerited grace and unlimited forgiveness of God who redeemed us in the glorification of Christ, here and now. We don’t receive the promise later, as the disciples did at Pentecost, at the coming of the Holy Spirit, for we have received it in our baptism, in the Blessed Sacrament, and in our confirmation.
So, let us let our light shine. Let us not hang our heads about the economy or the state of the world, or the rising price of the food we put on our tables and give away to those who need it. But let us do what we need to do to make our world, our parish, the place, the people, where all of those who are looking for God may find the peace of Christ in us, here and now. Let us pursue our mission as Christians without giving in to despair or to fear. Let us do what God put us here to do: to call his own people home. We will do this if we love him. I heard it this morning, as I passed by, at the weekly meeting at Good Shepherd, and I quote: “I am free to be the person God intends me to be.” And so are we.