6th Sunday of Easter

John 14:23-29

I am the wayIn the Gospel of Last Sunday we read that just after the departure of Judas Iscariot, Jesus declared “Now the Son of Man has been glorified” (John 13:31).  His glorification came about because now He was about to fulfil what the Father had sent Him to do. But, we might wonder, did the absence of Judas make it easier for Jesus to begin to speak to His assembled disciples?  The presence of a contrary force or of someone not attuned to the direction of any group or movement can inhibit right relations and openness to the Spirit. 

It was then that Jesus began to speak openly and intimately to his disciples.  The first thing that he reveals to them is that He is going to be leaving them.  Then He gives them the gift of the ‘new commandment’ – “Love one another: just as I have loved you”. He continues to teach them of their inherent weakness (foretelling Peter’s denial) and the centrality of His own person to their new way of life (“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”).  To deal with the hatred of the world and opposition to their way of life, Jesus promises them that they will be linked to Him as branches are linked to the vine and that He will send them the Holy Spirit to guide and protect them.

At the end of his teaching Jesus shares with his disciples the most intimate thing that He can share – his relationship with The Father.  As He prays He reveals to them his closeness to the Father and how perfectly He carries out the Will of the Father.  This intimacy is to be shared with all disciples and in turn they are to draw others into the same love and unity through the same words.

Jesus lifts up his followers by showing them this intimacy with the Father and He promises that, through the Holy Spirit, they will be drawn into that same intimacy with the Father and Himself.                                 One of the saints canonised by Pope Francis last week was Charles de Foucauld.  He seems to have understood very well what Jesus meant by this intimacy with God.  It is said that Charles “constantly strove to know Jesus better because you cannot love what you do not know”.  How well do we know the Lord?  It is a question that may stop us in our tracks.  But surely that is what is asked of us as true disciples, followers and spreaders of the Word.

If we know Him then we can hear Him, then we can live like Him.  Then the Word can become flesh!  As Carlo Carretto, the biographer of Charles de Foucauld, said of him: “Charles was convinced that the most effective method of preaching the Gospel was to live it.  Especially today, people no longer want to listen to sermons.  They want to see the Gospel in action”.  The gift of the commandment to love bears fruit through the lives of disciples. “If you love me you will keep my word, and my Father will love you, and we shall come to you and make our home with you”                              (John 14:23)