April 29, 2016
Today's Gospel reading, John 15: 12-17
Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
My dear fellow pilgrims,
The Lord gives us freedom by reclaiming us as His children, His beloved, members of his house: communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to write today because my spirit is so full of the joy these promises bring to my heart, and how rich the Gospel readings have been for the past week or so. John is my favorite Gospel, and these later chapters leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion and death are full of rich promises. Jesus is trying to explain His Love to His disciples before the unthinkable happens; He wants to give them hope to hold on to when they are terrified and weathered down to their last ounce of faith.
Can you just see the disciples listening to Jesus, terrified of the growing resistance towards Him, suspecting betrayal from one of their own? Part of the reason why there were 12 disciples, I’m sure, is so that even if more than a few disciples were tuning out when Jesus was speaking from dumbfounded fear or just sheer exhaustion, there would be a collective memory strong enough to recount His messages.
But really, what Jesus’ messages before the crucifixion boil down to these themes:
- I will reclaim you as my children.
- I will fight for you, and I will win.
- I do this all out of love.
I invite you to revel in these truths! Take time to be with Jesus to simply repeat the identity He died to give you: you are a child of God, called to enter into the Father’s joyful house.
Ever since the retreat last weekend, my attitude in prayer has turned from constant petitioning and asking for strength to persevere to just sitting in the peaceful acknowledgement of my being loved by Him. Looking back on the weekend, this shift occurred after a specific time of prayer I’d like to share with you.
I walked out into the field on the edge of the retreat property, with budding trees bordering the sky. My heart was heavy with the burdens of the past couple months (see my past blog posts for reference). My mind was still buzzing with what I would pray about, what prayers I would pray, which pen I would use to write in my journal. I sat down and put on Audrey Assad’s new album, Inheritance to help keep the mind buzzing to a minimum. I wrote down some thoughts… but then it felt like God gently squeezed my shoulders, tilted my chin, and invited me just to gaze upon Him for a while with no agenda of my own. I put down my books, my pen, and sat on the damp, cold ground, trying to clear my mind of any distinct thought and focus on the reality of God’s reaching out to me, meeting His ache for me with my own ache for Him.
It’s hard to describe the state of my soul during this time. I was still, held in the glance of the Father as the brisk Spring air. It wasn’t a quick and easy shift of gears, however; I still was tempted to check my watch for the time almost every five minutes. So, I took off my watch. I lifted my hands. I closed my eyes. I pictured Jesus in the flesh sitting next to me, putting His arm on my shoulder, letting me sit in silence because He knew I needed silence. The more I trusted in Him, the more I felt this silence and joy root deeply in my mind, my spirit. Deeper silence, deeper joy, less fear, less worry, less panic. I am a child of God, and I will stay close to my Father. I am a bride of Christ, and I will stay close to my Lover.
And I rested in His knowing me. He kept this time for me, for us.
As much as I want to relay the feelings I felt during this time of prayer to witness and encourage you all, I feel a resistance. Sometimes, like a Lover, God meets us with prayers, moments, feelings, experiences that He wants us to be the sole keepers of. He wants us to be like His Mother, keeping and pondering those moments in our hearts, allowing their reality to seep into our bones.
My brothers and sisters... if only we knew how much we hunger for His Love, and how much He longs to give us His Love. Ever since I have been learning to be more passive in prayer, it has been easier for me to feel the hunger, the dryness, the longing in others, and I just want to say: “It is Jesus that you seek!!! Go meet Him!!!” … but that’s not how evangelization works, that’s not how sharing a deep relationship with Jesus works.
I invite us all to make time during our days to just look at the Lord, worship Him when we are in transit during a normal work day, put on that Bethel worship album (no, but seriously… do it!!! they are an anointed group) and release your daily agenda into God’s hands.
Thanks for sticking with me through this longer reflection. :) I’ll end with a prayer.
Mighty, good, and strong Jesus,
I pray that you would instill an unshakable confidence within the Frassati society,
An unshakable confidence in Your power,
Your love, Your victory,
and our identities as children of God.
May we truly be your witnesses of this Love you outpoured on the Cross,
and galvanized in the tomb.
But may we also always praise and hold fast to your Resurrection,
Your Victory over the evil one, over the world.
And may we follow you now and all the days of our life,
so we can follow you to our eternal home:
in your joyful House.