The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home
May 13, 2018 – Seventh Sunday of Easter - John 17:11-19
Back in the last century, when I was a young lad, I learned in catechism class that there were two spirits that were always at my side. While this was a rather large idea for me to swallow, I did believe it. After all, my teacher was a nun and I believed that all nuns told the truth. Just like we read in today’s gospel reading that Jesus always told the truth.
I was taught that one of those spirits at my side was good (an angel) and the other was bad (a devil). So someone (or something – this was a little unclear for me back then) was drawing me toward doing good acts and someone was pulling me in the other direction. I believed without a doubt that these two forces were part of my life. I still do.
Pope Francis recently wrote about these forces in a document called “Rejoice and Be Glad.” (It’s available on the Vatican website. It’s free and well worth reading. Our pope has a way of expressing complex ideas in clear language and images.) As is his custom, he reminded us to remain joyful in our struggles with good and evil. God remains close to us and God’s help is always available to us.
This is much the same message of today’s gospel. Jesus was about to depart his earthly life, but he wanted his followers to know that his presence and power would not be taken away. We would not have to struggle all alone against the forces of evil. God is at our side. And God wants us to succeed. That’s partly what it means to be a person of hope. We trust in God’s assistance, especially during difficult times in our lives.
Daily we are reminded that life can be difficult. Not only are there reports of international crises, but we also are told to be careful close to home. Difficulties can even enter our family life. Those two forces mentioned already are active everywhere. Knowing this is not intended to make us scared, but to remind us to be watchful and alert.
Last week, I highlighted God’s personal love for each of us. God’s love is not kept in a sealed jar or behind locked doors. It is here, right beside us and with us as we walk through our lives. That nun was right when saying that there are spirits on my right and on my left. Not only am I, and you, not alone, we are not called to deal with life’s challenges alone. God wants to help us. That’s what those who love us do. So ask for that help. Not because we are weak (although we sometimes are) but because we are loved.
©David M. Thomas, PhD