Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself in him." Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.

"These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do . Arise, let us go from here."

- John 14:18-31

We continue with the Eastertide readings, this week from the Gospel of John. In this part of the Gospel, Jesus is giving His discourse to the Apostles after the Last Supper meal, before His Passion.

"I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." Jesus has been telling His disciples what is to come, but it is all still quite a mystery to them. He has told them of His betrayal. He has taught them a new commandment, that they must love one another as He has loved them. He has predicted Peter's three-time denial. He has taught them about the Comforter, the Helper, the Spirit of truth, who is to come. Here, He promises they are not left alone. While the world will not see Him, they will. And His promise is of greater, deeper relationship in love. "At that day" they will know that He is in the Father, they in Him, and He in them. We must understand the promise of the deepening of the bonds of love and trust, and what that teaches us about the One whom we worship, the God who became human. His promise is for us all, and exists and lives for us today. My study bible says, "At that day refers to the Resurrection of Jesus followed by the Ascension and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, all of which, working together, make the fullness of divine life available to all believers."

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself in him." John is the Evangelist of love, and here in these words, Jesus teaches us more deeply about love, and about His relationship with us. It is intermingled with the Father, inseparable from the Trinity. Included in this relationship of love are commandments, teachings, ways to live our lives even in this world, messages of the heart. In another passage of this farewell discourse, previous to today's, Jesus has taught: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35). His commandments of love continue in our lives; through His promise of the Helper, we are to live in that love, in those commandments, and deepen our relationship. It is a continuation of the previous promise of a new commandment; He will show Himself to us, He will manifest Himself in us. All are interrelated, inseparable. The commands of truth and love are inseparable from His Person, from the Father and Spirit, and we in relationship with all.

Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." Here is the deeper promise of love. In Revelation 3:20, the Evangelist will write: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." These passages from John's Gospel teach us about the difference between those who will open that door, and those who will not. The promise is in truth, and love -- and in the loving willingness to follow His teachings, His commands, His words, in which the Father speaks.

"These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." Here is the promise, of the Divine at work to bring us to remembrance, to help us to understand, to pattern our lives in His manifestation to us -- and in relationship to the Father and Spirit as well. We have help for all of it. Christ's death on the Cross is not a loss but a victory; one that will send us into a deepening of faith, of love, and relationship to Creator, in all new ways and levels, a tremendous gift of mercy and love. How many of us wish to hear?

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I." The peace that Christ gives to us is in this relationship, of love and commandment, of teaching and manifestation, of relationship with Father, Son and Spirit, and in the great gift of the Helper who will come to our aid and assistance, and help us so that He may dwell with us. In this is the peace He gives, not as the world gives. He gives us Himself, and Father, and Spirit. We dwell in His commands and the reconciliation of that peace. "Peace" was a customary Jewish word of both greeting and farewell. "Peace and grace" will become the greeting of Christians. All indicate love and relationship, truth and discipleship -- inseparable one from another. His promise of discipleship is a living one, of active love within us, active relationship with us. It is one that promises growth, maturity, a lifetime of deepening grace and transformation, if we allow Him in. In yesterday's reading, Jesus taught, "In my Father's house, there are many mansions." The word translated "mansion" is also a word for "room," a single dwelling. It is also the root of the word for "monastery." It is the same word Jesus uses above for home, when He says that He and the Father will come to him and make Our home with him. It is a promise of uniqueness, of growth, of a place prepared for us if we are but willing to follow, to learn, to truly love in this peace He promises. This peace is a reconciliation, not as the world gives, but in the relationship He promises. It may, in fact, be at odds with the world, and the place the world would seem to offer for us. In the saints, in the holy of Scripture Old and New, we find the uniqueness of the God-given personality, those who are draw identity from this relationship.

"And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do . Arise, let us go from here." Jesus is preparing them for what is to come, and He is prepared to face what is to come. He will set the example of following the commandments of God, even unto death. He contrasts the place the "ruler of this world" would offer -- the ruler who has nothing in Him -- with that of the Father. Jesus will walk through this time of darkness with the Father, at the Father's command. His pace to the Cross is not at the behest of the ruler of this world, but is in fact a heroic victory in the love of the Father.

A very wise spiritual director and psychologist has taught me that often, it's not what we do that makes the difference in our lives, but why we do it. The same action may mean two different things in two different people, or even at different times in our own lives. If it is motivated by fear, it may be entirely unhealthy, both psychologically and spiritually. But if motivated by love, it may then be entirely healthy, and indicate positive growth, both psychologically and spiritually. We could consider, by way of example, the aspect of setting boundaries in life, necessary for spiritual and psychological health. But if erected out of fear, it may hide us from the things we may need to face in truth and deal with. So it is with the Cross. Jesus' teaching here is ultimately one of love. It is the great archetype we have of love. He goes to the Cross not as the world has prepared it, not as the world will see it nor the "ruler of the world" planned, but as loving Son of loving Father, "for God so loved the world." It is, in fact, the greatest facing of truth, the conquering of the illusion of death, of despair, of abandonment. While the "ruler of this world" may see killing and death as final, an elimination of that which Christ brings to the world, in reality the Cross gives us the victory of Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, the presence of the Trinity to those who desire this discipleship in love. Christ gives us the great transcendence that all may talk about, but that He lived, for us. Let us never forget that when we take up His cross to follow Him, we ask for the greatest power that can define truth from falsehood, that can show us the way to our true place prepared for us in love, to who we really are and to what really matters. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." In the times of choice in our lives, let us remember His courage, His word, His truth to us. He shares it all. It is our most precious gift.