I was asked to move to the Midwest by my employer early in my career. This was not an easy decision for me and my family. After all at that time, disrupting everything and uprooting everyone to move far away was unheard of in my family’s “tradition.” It just wasn’t done and it was painful for all concerned. However, in time everyone adjusted to the change and in many ways we all benefitted from the experience. What started out to be a two year commitment became fifteen. Yet, I can remember how great it was when we would come home and visit for various occasions and holidays. I can also remember how it felt when we had to leave and return to our home, particularly in the beginning when it was still new. The last couple of hours before our departure were mixed. There were packing and last minute checks on “things.” But there were quiet and pensive moments during which we were all considerably more subdued and avoided the delicate subject of our departure. This may be a little of what John has been teaching us these last few weeks.
Our Revised Common Lectionary has presented John’s Gospel in a series of installments since Holy Thursday so that the disciples and we might understand that while Jesus would no longer be with them, he was not leaving them alone. So, it’s important to read this brief section fromJohn 16: 12-15 John 16:12-15 as part of a continuum and not as a lecture on the doctrine of the Trinity. John is intent on emphasizing Jesus’ ongoing loyalty, guidance and protection. The events leading up to and through and following The Last Supper contain pivotal elements of our faith:
· Jesus demonstrates his unconditional love as a model for his disciples and us to follow.
· He prays that they love one another and that they forever be united.
· He knows his fate and their journey would not be easy and so he promises to send the help that they will need in the form of the Holy Spirit.
David Steindl-Rast writes in Deeper than Words: “The Holy Spirit, as the awe-inspiring power of life and love, is a reality with which every human being is familiar. We differ only by the degree to which we open ourselves to this power. Fear tends to block and close our access to life in fullness for which Jesus Christ stands. If we patiently cultivate courage and openness, we will become more and more aware of the Spirit which allows us to know God, love God and thrive in God because this power quickens our intellect, our will and our emotions…When in our Creed we proclaim our belief in the Holy Spirit, we acknowledge God as a triune with the ‘Father,’ the ultimate mystery from whom we come and to whom we are on our way; the ‘Son,’ in whom we find our true Self; the ‘Spirit,’ the divine aliveness within our innermost life, Here we touch upon the very core of faith.”