As we anticipate the Sixth Sunday of Easter Franciscan Friar Fr. Paul Gallagher reflects on the Gospel of John. The content is 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 22 2022. 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.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.
I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away, and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”
For the last five weeks the scripture readings of the Easter Season 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 Sunday will be the Feast of Pentecost. The gospel text for this Sunday offers a glimpse into the early Christians’ first reflection on the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And by introducing the role of the Holy Spirit, the text also prepares us for the upcoming celebration of the great Feast of Pentecost.
The text itself is part of John’s Last Supper account, after Jesus had washed the feet of the disciples. From that perspective, Jesus’ instruction would help the disciples prepare for the events of the Passion.
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, this led to new questions and doubts within the community. Many did not remain faithful.
In John’s gospel, the Holy Spirit is described as having at least three roles. The Advocate is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth after the ascension, and the source of truth, and a source of consolation and peace. “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 Holy Spirit reminds the community of the things that Jesus had taught, and testifies to the truth on behalf of Jesus. (John 14:26)
- Have there been deaths of people whose absence affected how you lived, celebrated, or thought about God?
- Who are the “wisdom people” in your life?
- In the first verse of this gospel Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” How do you experience the truth of Jesus’ promise to you?
- As you look at the scope of your life, where do you see the presence of the Holy Spirit?
- How do you think most people think of peace?
- How do you experience the peace that God brings?
- 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?
- 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 in you from this gospel text?