Franciscan Gospel Reflection: Sixth Sunday of Easter

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May 13, 2020

Alleluia, we continue to pray with joy this Sixth week of Easter. Please find 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 Reflections May 17 2020 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. Photos: St. John Nepomucene, Little Chute, Wisconsin.

John 14:15-21

Jesus said to his disciples,  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  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.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.  Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”


In last week’s gospel, Philip said to Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” (John 14:8) This gospel passage continues Jesus’ response to that statement. This text too, comes from the last discourse of Jesus.

The connection between love and keeping God’s commandments is presented in both the first and last verse of the text. Obedience is not love. The eldest brother of the prodigal son was obedient, but he is not the example of love that Jesus asks us to emulate. However, when one loves, they do what pleases the one they love. The second part of verse 19 speaks of the presence of God to those who do love.

Throughout the text, John presents some insights into the relationship of God as Trinity. The intimate relationship of the Father and Jesus is expressed especially in verses 16, 20, and 21. At the same time, there is also a sense that they are distinct from one another. The text also includes a reference to the Spirit in verses 16 and 17. While the text speaks of an intimate relationship between the three, it is not clearly defined.

As was stated last week, it seems to be unclear whether Jesus is preparing the disciples for his departure in death or for his departure from earth in the Ascension. Jesus’ departure will leave the disciples with a sense of loss.  He reassures them that he will not leave them orphaned. They will find His presence not by looking outside of themselves, but within.

Lastly, it may be helpful to be aware that John’s gospel reflects a culture where society was viewed as being separated into two groups: one’s extended family, and everyone else. All those outside of the family were presumed to be a possible threat. Hence the text casts outsiders as distinctly different and separate from the favored loved members of the community.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is your present experience of loving and supportive relationships?
  2. How has your experience been affected by the current encouragement to stay at home and practice social distancing?
  3. Do you experience obedience as a response to some authority outside of yourself, or as an inner expression of who you are, the commitments you have made, and your desire to be faithful?
  4. Where do you experience people committed to the Spirit of truth? Where do you experience people using lies and deception? How does this affect your relationship with them?
  5. Jesus talks about the world as being incapable of accepting or recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit. How do you understand what Jesus is saying about the world?
  6. Last Sunday, Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, and that would be enough for them. Where does this text suggest that Philip should look for the presence of the Father?
  7. Can you take some time talk with God openly and honestly about your feelings and desire to be obedient out of your love for God, yourself, and your neighbors?

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