– 21-5-2017 – SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – Year A Gospel Text : John 14:15-21 vs.15 Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments. vs.16 I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever. vs.17 This is the Spirit of […]
– 21-5-2017 –
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – Year A
Gospel Text : John 14:15-21
vs.15 Jesus said to his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.
vs.16 I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever.
vs.17 This is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
vs.18 I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
vs.19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.
vs.20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
vs.21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”
We have four sets of homily notes to choose from. Please scroll down the page for the desired one.
Michel DeVerteuil : A Trinidadian Holy Ghost Priest, Specialist in Lectio Divina
Thomas O’Loughlin: Professor of Historical Theology, University of Wales. Lampeter.
John Littleton: Director of the Priory Institute Distant Learning, Tallaght
Donal Neary SJ: Editor of The Sacred Heart Messenger
Michel de Verteuil
Lectio Divina with the Sunday Gospels – Year A
Like last Sunday’s passage, this reading will seem abstract to you at first, but situate it in the context of the Last Supper and you will recognize the movement of Jesus’ thought from your own experience and from the lives of great people you have known or read about. As always, it may be helpful to divide the passage and meditate on one section at a time.
Verses 15 to 17: Jesus makes a difference between the way he has been present to the disciples until then and the way he will be present to them after he leaves them. Read it from the point of view of a teacher or a parent who must leave children, or from your memories of any teaching that was outside yourself and then became part of you.
Verses 18 and 19: The same movement expressed in a new metaphor – being orphaned and then realizing that we are not lost after all.
Verse 20: This is a precious verse. It describes the moment when we read the story of Jesus in the gospels and discover that it is not the story of someone outside ourselves, but our own story, and that therefore our stories are really sacred. Great teachers can promise their followers that one day they will experience something similar.
Verse 21: Jesus describes the process of getting to know him, starting from a different point – the person follows his teaching and then enters into a deep relationship with him.
Lord, we thank you that you have called us to be leaders in our community.
At present things are going well:
there is trust among us, we share many things, and we are working together.
But we know that this will not last forever,
and so we pray that the values we have grown to believe in may become part of us,
so that even though the majority of people around us do not accept them,
we may continue to live by them,
and even though outwardly we will no longer be a community,
we may remain one because of that inner bond that unites us.
Lord, from time to time you send us a wonderful person
who guides and inspires us;
when they die or leave us we feel orphaned.
But then we discover that they are still with us.
Others – even our friends – cannot understand this,
but we know that this person is alive,
and we know that our lives are fuller because of this.
Lord, forgive us that we always want to see things:
– we have become so dependent on external stimuli;
– we must be listening to the radio or watching the television;
– we need to hear sermons or read spiritual books.
Teach us to quieten ourselves so that we may listen to our inner rhythms:
– the memories we have, both painful and happy;
– the deep longings of our hearts;
– the instincts of our nature.
Remind us that Jesus prayed for us
that you would make your presence known to us within the truth of ourselves.
Lord, we thank you for those wonderful moments of grace
when we knew that our lives were sacred.
We had read the story of Jesus, but it was the story of someone else
– the story of the saints, of extraordinary people.
Now we experienced that we too are living Jesus lives,
and we are your presence in the world.
Lord, we thank you for people we have known who are not Christians
but who love the teachings of Jesus and keep them.
We know, Father, that you love them as we love them,
and we pray that you may continue to show yourself to them.
Liturgical Resources for the Year of Matthew
Introduction to the Celebration
We gather to celebrate in the presence of the risen Lord. We are called to be the people who bear witness to his victory over death. We are the people who proclaim the Father’s forgiveness to the ends of the earth by being people who are forgiving.
1. The demanding stance on how Christians are to react to persecution in 1 Peter makes this a fine occasion to reflect on the ever present question of Christians and violence.
2. It is interesting to note the number of times that public figures quote scripture without knowing it (e.g. ‘going the extra mile for peace’ (President Clinton) is an allusion to Mt 5:41) and it is cited both with approval and non-approval. Invariably when one hears quotations on non-violence cited, they are implied to be feeble and silly, if not downright wrong: thus ‘turn the other cheek’ (Mt 5:39) is not presented as the statement of wisdom, but of a stupidity that acquiesces to evil. While few who declare themselves Christians take the hawkish position of ‘take ’em on, take ’em out!’, there is an awareness that one must stand up to bullies, those who abuse power, those who trample on other’s rights, especially those who abuse the weak, poor, defenceless.
This dilemma has lead to the traditional unwillingness of the church to adopt a pacifist position. Pacifism has a simple attractiveness, but the pacifist must ask this question: is it right for me not to oppose someone who if not stopped will destroy not only me, but others who may not be able to stand up for themselves? While using force can appear immoral, pacifism too can be immoral in that I am passively collaborating in suffering being caused to others. Thus I may, in the exercise of my freedom, be destroying the freedom of others. Pacifism poses moral problems, and can be a selfish opting out of our moral responsibilities to others weaker than ourselves. This is a dilemma; but we are certain that those who set out to dominate others act evilly, and a wilful hawkishness cannot be reconciled with Christianity for which force is always a last resort.
3. However, the situation envisaged in 1 Peter is slightly different: how should Christians react when they are being persecuted as Christians – it is their behaviour precisely as Christians that is the issue. They are to give an account of their beliefs but to do so with courtesy. Put another way, they do make their stand known, but do not ‘fight fire with fire’. They cannot have recourse to methods of bullying, force, or intolerance, for that would betray the Christ in whom they seek to live. As Christ chose the way of gentleness, so when challenged Christians must act with gentleness: otherwise their words preach one thing, their actions another. This is a hard lesson: the recurrence of the notions of crusade and pro Deo et patria (God gets first billing, but usually takes second place) testify to this. And sadly these notions are far from dead, as various right-wing Christian groups demonstrate in their readiness’ to fight for gospel values’. Their very militancy compromises the Christ they wish to serve.
4. 1 Peter makes deep moral demands on us. As a Christian how fitted am I to give an account of my faith? Is my understanding of the Christian message a few’ do’s and don’ts’ and some scraps of information remembered from school? Do I appreciate there is a Christian manner of action? Am I conscious of how others are persecuted for their beliefs, or feel a sense of solidarity with Christians who suffer elsewhere? As a member of a body which was born in persecution and whose head suffered on the cross, am I sensitive to the pain of all who are oppressed, and seek to alleviate their persecution? Is a document such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights something that I consider should interest me as a Christian? Do I support those who support human rights? Painful questions, but can we be true to our origin if we shy away from them?
We do not instinctively associate the concept of love with the demand to be faithful to a series of rules. People often speak about love as if it is in opposition to rules and regulations: ‘all you need is love’ and ‘love and do what you will’ are the type of sayings that are used in discussions as evidence that we do not need to worry about rules.
Yet, in the farewell speech to his disciples, Jesus was uncompromising when he explained the necessary connection between loving him and keeping his commandments: ‘If you love me you will keep my commandments’ (Jn 14:15).
In that speech, Jesus dealt with several other concerns. But he then returned to the link between love and the commandments: ‘Anyone who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me; and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him’ (Jn 14:21).
The central commandment of Jesus’ teaching was to love God and love neighbour. That commandment summarised the basic moral behaviours and ritual practices that Jesus required from his disciples. Those behaviours and practices formed the charter of what it meant for them to live as his followers.
Jesus’ moral teaching is best summarised in the Sermon on the Mount (see Mt 5-7) or the Sermon on the Plain (see Lk 6) where he expands the Ten Commandments, making them more demanding. For example, the commandment not to kill is developed to prohibit undue anger with another person, and the commandment not to commit adultery is developed to prohibit even lustful thinking.
The ethical teaching of Jesus provides us with definite instructions for everyday living. It stresses the need for correct and respectful relationships with God and with one another. It teaches us that we cannot separate our relationship with God from our various relationships with other people. This means that we cannot have a straightforward vertical relationship with God without also having a horizontal relationship with God through our relationships with the people we meet in everyday life.
The fundamental message of Jesus’ moral teaching is that we are obligated to love God and our neighbour. We cannot love one without the other. It is impossible to compartmentalise God and people such that they remain unconnected. Our dealings with others have implications for our friendship with God. This is how, in practice, we connect love and rules. If we love God, we will keep his commandments. If we love our neighbour, we will not treat him/her unjustly.
Nowadays, many people dismiss moral imperatives as being irrelevant to modern life. They are often viewed negatively because they are judged to be imposing limitations on our freedom. However, that is not so. Fidelity to Jesus’ commandments enables us to live freely in the presence of God who cares for us. Contrary to popular opinion, the purpose of Jesus’ moral demands is to enable us to appreciate the freedom of living according to God’s will. It is not to make our lives miserable. Faithfulness to his commandments is the benchmark of our love for him and, in fact, for ourselves and our neighbour.
The teaching of Jesus offers us clear instructions to enable us to be to be faithful to God’s will. It summarises what is required in order to live a wholesome life that reflects God’s truth and beauty. Its purpose is to rid our lives of selfishness and selfcentredness so that we can learn to put God and other people first, and ourselves last.
When our consciences are formed by Jesus’ teaching, we know the difference between right and wrong. Living according to his teaching ensures genuine happiness in this life and eternal happiness in heaven.
If you love me you will keep my commandments. (Jn14:15)
Fr Donal Neary, S.J
Gospel Reflections for the Year of Matthew
No body now but yours
St Teresa’s prayer is popular in this adaptation-
Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do well.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
You are his eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Jesus speaks in the gospel about being still alive, even after his death. Mostly we find Jesus alive in the love of others. The energy of love that is connected to the energy of God, for God is love. Other times we find God close to us in prayer; but where we can sense him alive mostly is in the ordinary and extraordinary loves of every day, in marriage, family, friendship and care for others.
Many of us do not realise that in this way we have been Christ-bearers. In listening to another, in care of all sorts, in putting ourselves out for the other, in working for justice and for peace the Spirit of God is alive and people are touched by God’s love through the co-operation of ordinary men and women.