thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Readings may be found here
As we continue to live through these very challenging circumstances, there are some very strange effects of social isolation. On the one hand, we miss being with family and friends – on the other hand, weeks of lockdown can leave us frustrated and impatient with those close at hand. Is it possible to want to be together and need to get away all at the same time?
In the passage from John today, Jesus continues His address to His disciples regarding the coming events of His passion and death. As He describes it today, He “is going away.” Throughout this chapter, He has been reassuring them that this departure is not a disaster but a change that will bring new possibilities. He has spoken to them of the ways that He will continue to be with them, and the ways in which they will come to do His work and carry His word to others. More than once He has told them not to be troubled and here He promises them His peace. In the biblical understanding, peace is not the absence of conflict, it is an active reality – right relationship with God and neighbor. The events that are about to occur, as overwhelming as they may be for the disciples, will be the moment when peace, right relationship, is restored by Jesus’ self offering. For this reason they must rejoice even if they feel bereft and broken-hearted.
In a moment when we might be getting fed up with confinement and impatient with those that share our space, this passage is a good reminder of the agony and the glory of relationship. We can indeed be petty and cruel. We betray and hurt those we love. But the deeper, lasting truth is that our lives are meaningless without each other. In relationship, in forgetting ourselves, in loving one another, we find a purpose and joy that no suffering can overcome. As Jesus reveals the face of the God of love, He reveals to us the truth of us, made in the image and likeness of God. Near or far, together or apart, He speaks His love and His peace – “do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”