Scripture Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Saint Augustine in one of his best known sermons said, “love, and do what you will.” He was reiterating the essential message of today’s Gospel. If we truly love Jesus, then our hearts will be aligned with him and our desires will be aligned with his desires. Sin, or rejection of Jesus’ commandments is not so much a lack of obedience as it is a lack of love. When we open our hearts to Jesus, he sends the Holy Spirit to live within us; we are welcomed into the heart of the Trinity. “On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” There will be no part of us that is in conflict with God because the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of right seeing and right understanding, will live in us. We will not need to ask “where is God?” or “how can God allow this?” because we will be able to feel God’s love even in the most painful circumstances.
As I reflected on this passage I was reminded of a hospital experience that I had some time ago. I was privileged to spend time with a husband whose wife was dying in the hospital. Over the course of many weeks her ability to communicate clearly gradually decreased, and she was able to find fewer and fewer words even though her desire to have a conversation with the people around her remained strong. Whenever she could not find a word she would look to her husband to supply it. As the weeks passed she was counting on him to fill in almost all of the words in all of her sentences and expressing frustration if he did not choose the correct ones. Day after day, he carefully selected the words that expressed the things that she cared about, and each time that he chose the wrong word and she scowled at him, he would gently apologize, speak words of love and comfort to her and try again. She would look at him and her annoyance would fade away into a look of trust and the sense of anxiety and tension that surfaced when she could not express herself would slip away as she felt “heard” by him. For his part, her husband relied on the love of God to sustain him. He stated that he would never have imagined that he could spend day after day in the hospital, because he was someone who was always on the go, but now there was nowhere he would rather be. Every time that I entered her hospital room, I could sense the presence of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Truly these two people were one with each other and one with God. Love bound them so closely that I could not see one without seeing the other – not the wife without the husband, not the husband without the wife, not the two without God … The words of today’s Gospel came alive for me in that hospital room in a way that they never have before. The Holy Spirit, the One sent by God to help us, is as close as our willingness to choose love and has the power to transform even the deepest suffering into something incredibly beautiful!
Pam Driedger, St. Jude’s Church