Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Sixth Sunday of Easter 2019

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May 22, 2019

Alleluia! On this Sixth Week of celebrating the Lord is risen, we offer a Franciscan Gospel reflection and questions written by Fr. Paul Gallagher, OFM for your prayer. They are edited by Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Anne Marie Lom and Joe Thiel. The excerpts from the Sunday readings are prepared by Joe Thiel. To read or download the complete pdf with excerpts for your prayer, please click here: Franciscan Gospel Reflection May 24 2019. Excerpts are from the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America, second typical edition © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. Used with permission. All rights reserved. No portion of this text may be reproduced by any means without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Please include this information when printing. Photos: St. Anthony, Niagara, Wisconsin

John 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him always. He who does not love me does not keep my words. Yet the word you hear is not mine; it comes from the Father who sent me.

This much have I told you while I was still with you; the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will instruct you in everything, and remind you of all that I told you. ‘Peace’ is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you; I do not give it to you as the world gives peace. Do not be distressed or fearful. You have heard me say, ‘I go away for a while, and I come back to you.’ If you truly loved me you would rejoice to have me go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I tell you this now, before it takes place, so that when it takes place you may believe.”

BACKGROUND

This is the 6th Sunday of Easter. For the last five weeks the scripture readings have reflected on our relationship to the risen Lord. Next Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, and the following week is the Feast of Pentecost. The gospel text for this Sunday offers a glimpse into the early Christians’ first reflections on the role of the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. By introducing the role of the Holy Spirit, the text also prepares us to celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost.

The text itself is part of John’s the Last Supper account. From that perspective, Jesus’ instruction would help the disciples prepare for the events of the Passion. The people of John’s community a generation later were also dealing with the absence of Jesus in another way. They relied on the presence of those who had personally known Jesus to help guide them in a new way of life. When the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Christians interpreted this as an expression of God’s anger and anticipated that Jesus’ triumphant return would soon follow. When Jesus did not return, and those who had experienced the living Jesus also began to die, questions and doubts arose within the community. Many did not stay on.

In John’s gospel, the Paraclete (Holy Spirit) is described as having at least three roles. The Paraclete is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth after the ascension, and the source of truth. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you, the comforter and advocate.” (John 14:17) And lastly in the text for today the Paraclete reminds the community of the things that Jesus had taught, and testifies to the truth on behalf of Jesus. (John 14:26)

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

1. Who are the “wisdom people” in your life?
2. When I think of how I have been affected by the loss of significant people in my life…
3. In the first verse of this gospel Jesus says: “Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him always.” How do you experience the truth of Jesus’ promise to you in these words?
4. I believe that I experience the working of the Holy Spirit in my life…
5. When Jesus in this gospel reassures the disciples of a peace that the world cannot give…
6. John writes his gospel to respond to the doubt, fears, and questions of the Christians of his day. Do you experience doubt or questions in your life?
7. Can you talk with God openly and honestly about your experience of the Holy Spirit working in your life, your own need for reassurance, or some thought or feeling that arose within you from this gospel text?