Sixth Sunday of Easter
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him..." (Jn. 14:23-29)
For the Sixth Sunday of Easter, this week’s Gospel comes from John 14 as the disciples prepare for Jesus’ departure in the physical and are now preparing to begin Evangelizing on their own, without Jesus physically present. While reflecting on this Gospel reading, I started to draw a parallel between the teachers and their students during this graduation season. I’m thinking how all the teachers have spent countless hours preparing their students to matriculate to the next level, and some even out on their own, into the “adult world” for the first time. Now, these new graduates are forced to take those teachings and put them into practice.
In verse 23, Jesus prepares his disciples when he replies, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teachings….” Here, Jesus sets the standard and makes sure his disciples understand his expectations - Loving me means obeying my teachings. It is simple and direct. Then, he provides instructions on how we are rewarded and how we get the ‘A,’ when we, his disciples, meet those expectations. When we are obedient, “My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them (v.23).” We are rewarded by being welcomed into the presence of God. What an amazing goal! Jesus is the ultimate teacher and makes sure to set up his disciples, his students, up for success. Jesus gives us what to expect as we meet those expectations.
Jesus also promises to guide the disciples throughout their assignment—our Evangelization journey, even when he physically leaves his beloved disciples. Verse 26 instructs us that the Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name, and the Holy Spirit will guide us and remind us of all of Jesus’ teachings. In addition, He promises in verse 27 to give us the gift of peace. Jesus knows his disciples are afraid and anxious about going on without him. They love their Teacher and will miss the many hours they spent in friendship, learning, and growing with Him. Doesn’t this sound familiar to many graduates this season who may be experiencing feelings of sadness as they leave their friends behind? Doesn’t this sound familiar to many graduates who may be feeling anxiety as they are constantly questioned about their next big step?
However, Jesus loves his students, and He will not leave them without first providing guidance—the Holy Spirit and then the gift of Peace. The gift of Peace is that the disciples know Jesus has prepared them well with confidence. They are fully prepared to go out into the world and spread the Good News. The gift of peace overpowers those feelings of sadness and anxiety. Peace propels his disciples forward and with confidence in spreading the Good News while building up his Church.
We are Jesus’ disciples. We are his students. Jesus is our life teacher, and He’s given you the Holy Spirit as your guide to matriculate through life. All along it has been the Holy Spirit helping you make the big decisions about love, relationships, career choices or direction, etc. You never succeeded on your own because the whole time you had the Holy Spirit among you, beside you, and inside of you, helping you. You can never graduate from God because as you become more obedient to his teachings and his plan for you, you get closer to the presence of God—which is the gift of peace. What a gift Jesus has given us in knowing we can access true peace as we become more obedient to his Word and teachings. We are his students, and although we yearn to be with him physically as his disciples did, we are always with him in the spiritual as we access the Holy Spirit. We honor the impact He has had on our lives by carrying and sharing those many teachings and various lessons throughout our daily lives, within our families, and amongst our various communities as we reinforce and invite others into the connectedness of our community of believers.
Author: Nyle Grimes, member of St. Teresa of Avila Church, Washington, D.C.