Close to Your Heart

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

May 17, 2020 Sixth Sunday of Easter - John 14: 15-21

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The air was heavy with fear and distress. Recently Jesus has upset those who used temple worship for their own ends, that of making money for themselves. Jerusalem at the time was filled with pilgrims who had come to celebrate the Passover. The Roman authorities were thus on guard because they were worried about a local political uprising against their occupation. They were especially concerned that a local person might excite the people to rebellion. They had set up on a hill at the edge of Jerusalem a set of crosses that were being used to eradicate anyone they felt was dangerous. Like I said, there was fear in the air on all sides.

It was during this time that Jesus celebrated his Last Supper with his closest disciples. Given the circumstances, he carefully chose his words. In this Sunday’s gospel we have a passage from what he said. His followers were worried of losing him. He wanted to assure them that separation would never happen. He would always be with them, but in a new way. The day will come, he said, when he would be with his Father, yet he would also remain with them and they would be with him. These words were said to clarify and describe a new kind of presence of Jesus in their midst. In other words, there would be no final separation. They would all remain together.

Two-thousand years later, these words are addressed to us. In a spiritual, yet very real way, Jesus remains with us and in us. In a sense we cannot see God’s presence because God is too close to us. It’s like when we place an object right next to our eyes, yet we can’t really see it because our eyes will not focus on anything that close.

When I first heard about God’s constant presence as a youngster in Catholic school, I was afraid because the nun said that this was because God wanted to see every bad thing I did.  God even knew about any bad thoughts I had. I did not take this information in as good news.

But later – in times of fear and loneliness – this promise of Jesus to remain with us and in us gave me consolation and hope. Right now, in the midst of social distancing, it’s a good time to recall this because Jesus, in God’s Spirit, is always close by, or as Jesus said: ”You are in me and I am in you.” We are never alone. But like so many deep aspects of our lives, we sometimes forget. We forget that Jesus promised that his love for us would never end. He wants to be our companion wherever we are. The big question is: Do we want his companionship?           

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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