Sunday, 25 May 2014

6th Sunday of Easter, Year A, Shaftesbury

Jn 14:15-21
This week I was faced with not one but THREE BIG challenges, three things that seemed too much for me.
And yet, each thing was obviously something that was being asked of me, that GOD was therefore asking of me.
And, when I heard today’s Gospel, I remembered HOW I’m supposed to face them. Because in today's Gospel we are both asked to do something seemingly beyond us, and given the promise that makes it possible.

Today’s Gospel gave us part of the account of the Lord’s ‘last request’, His ‘last will and testament’, so to speak. These are the words He said at the Last Supper:
He was going off to die for love of us.
And what does He ask of us? What is His ‘last request’? He says, 'If you love me, keep my commandments"
And, though we don't have the text today, He sums up His commandments very simply: "Love one another, as I have loved you".
And then, at that very moment when He asked us to keep His commandments, WITH THIS request, He promised to send the Holy Spirit, "the helper".

So, this is the point I want to make to you today:
God asks great things of us, He asks difficult things of us,
He asks difficult things like commanding us to love,
BUT He never fails to give us the capacity to do them,
and the clearest sign of this is His promise to give us His Holy Spirit.
The command to love is a thing simply said, but living it out involves many DIFFICULT challenges. This week I have, like you, had a great many varied things I've needed to do. Most are small and mundane. But they are all part of how I am called to love God and love my neighbour, and in my own context, how I am called to love my parishioners:
Picking up the litter outside the church that no one else seemed bothered to do;
Being polite when someone called at an unreasonable hour;
-These and many other things are part of how I am called to love.

But then, amidst this stuff, there were three BIG things this week. Things so big I didn't really see how I could be adequate to them. And I, like any mortal, had a serious moment of FEAR. Can I do this thing? I knew it was obviously what is called of me, it's obviously part of how I am called to love, but CAN I do it?
Can I do it alone? By my own power?
But I can WITH HIM. With HIS power. With the Holy Spirit He Promised to send me.

So, to sum up:
Maybe the tedious, small details of living love for others has seemed too much this week for you.
Or, maybe, the weight of a crisis or problem has seemed too much, and you quake in FEAR about whether you can cope.
Well, Alone, we cannot. But with Him, we can.
And remember: It's His last request. He asks us to love, and to do all the small and big things that are part of that love.
He asks much, but it is possible, because He promises even more than He asks. He promises not a thing outside Himself, not something less than God, but His very Spirit.

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