Fifth Sunday of Easter: A Reflection

by Sr. Kathleen Flood, OSF. Director of Student Services and Spiritual Formation Franciscan School of Theology

begin quote"On this Mother’s Day weekend, let us remember and be grateful for all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and other mother figures who have offered us and modeled for us the endless love and unity of the Trinity.  "
The opening verse in today’s Gospel reading, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1), is repeated again by Jesus in verse 27.  What is going on prior to Jesus’ plea that leads him to say in effect, ‘Trust me!’ 
 
Let’s place ourselves as disciples in the scene described in John 13.  We are gathered around a table, have just finished the Passover meal, Jesus has puzzled us by washing our feet, and Judas has been identified as Jesus’ betrayer and has left our gathering.  Then Jesus announces to us, “I’ll be here only a little while longer” (v.33) and we cannot go with him.  What?!?!  
 
We gave up so much, have been following Jesus faithfully, and now he is leaving us?  What did we do wrong?  Were we not good enough?  Now he tells us that we “should love one another” (v.34).  If he loved us, wouldn’t he stay with us?  Peter speaks up, as he usually does, and asks, “Where are you going” (v.36)?   In his retort to Peter, Jesus predicts Peter’s denials.  Are we disciples confused, dismayed, worried, angry, and fearful?  Are our hearts troubled?  You bet!  Coming back to today, we have the benefit of hindsight, Scripture, and scholarship to help us understand that which caused the disciples angst.  We have a better sense than those first disciples had of what Jesus meant by his departure and return. 
 
In today’s passage, which is the first of the Last Supper Discourses, Jesus shares with the troubled disciples one of the most consoling, assuring, and enlightening discourses in the Gospels.  How much did he love his followers?  Jesus is knowingly proceeding into the final hours of his human life, just before making his way to the Garden of Gethsemane, and his focus is on revealing as much as he can to his disciples.  Even though Jesus would soon be leaving them, he assures them of his return and reunion with them.  It is still more than they can comprehend in the moment.  
 
Trying to console the disciples, Jesus reveals to them his relationship of love, mutuality, and union with the Father and, although today’s reading cuts Jesus off, he continues on to reveal that “another Advocate … the Spirit of Truth” (Jn 14:16, 17) is also part of this Divine Unity of boundless love and will remain with the disciples.  They will not be left on their own.  The best part of this discourse is the revelation that the disciples are invited into this Trinitarian relationship:  “[the Spirit] remains with you and will be in you” (v. 17) and “I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you” (v.20).  This is no ordinary relationship though.  It is one that is overflowing with God’s love.  How could anyone’s heart be troubled? 
 
The great news for us is that this revelation and sacred relationship were not only for the disciples who gathered with Jesus at the Last Supper.  They are also meant for us - for ALL of us - RIGHT NOW.  We are a part of this sacred relationship of the infinite and vast love of God.  God’s love for us and for all creation continues as it was in the beginning and will be forever.  We are called to share that love with one another (Jn 13:34) to participate in this relationship.  As imperfect humans, we know it is difficult to respond to that call without falling short.  Fortunately, with God’s infinite mercy and love, we get a lifetime of second chances to do better.  While many things may frustrate, disappoint, or even incapacitate us these days, let not our hearts be troubled.  
 
Due to its consoling message, today’s Gospel passage is often proclaimed at funeral masses.  Listening to it proclaimed at my mom’s funeral comforted my troubled heart.  The words brought me peace knowing that Jesus took her to himself, away from the earthly pain and suffering, and welcomed her home to a divine dwelling place - with an ocean view, of course.  She was reunited with and encircled by the triune God’s loving embrace.  
 
On this Mother’s Day weekend, let us remember and be grateful for all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and other mother figures who have offered us and modeled for us the endless love and unity of the Trinity.  
 
May God give you peace. 
 

Contact:

Sandee Gutierrez
svasquez@sandiego.edu
619-260-4735

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