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“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Today, we receive these comforting words from John’s Gospel in the serene setting of the liturgy. And we mostly overlook the fact that they were first spoken in the highly emotional context of the Last Supper.
Jesus gathered with his followers to celebrate a Passover meal as would have been the custom of all Jews. Things took a surprising turn when Jesus began to wash his followers’ feet. This was most unusual as the washing of feet was commonly done by servants. It was so puzzling to his disciples that Peter at first refused to have his feet washed by Jesus, though in the end he submitted. By washing his followers’ feet Jesus demonstrated how radical and world altering his teaching was and continues to be. He also commanded his disciples to do as he had done: to wash one another’s feet and love one another.
Then Jesus revealed that Judas would betray him and that Peter would deny him. In addition, Jesus disclosed that his time with them was coming to and end. All of this must have been extremely unsettling for the disciples who anticipated a conventional Passover meal but rather experienced the Last Supper with all its human and divine drama in anticipation of Jesus’ passion and death.
At the height of this drama Jesus says: “do not let your hearts be troubled.” I can only speculate at how the disciples received this statement.
Since that night, we the followers of Jesus have found ourselves in troubling times marked by plagues, wars, revolutions, persecutions, etc. And like Jesus told his followers 2000 years ago he has told his followers through the ages even until today: “do not let your hearts be troubled.”
In addition to speaking these comforting words Jesus also reveals in today’s Gospel how we are to act so our hearts will not be troubled even in these most troubling of times by offering himself as “the truth, the way and the life.” Following in the way of Jesus by living and preaching his truth is what will give us life. This fundamental truth and the true way of Jesus is love and service which he demonstrated during the Last Supper by washing feet and commanding us to do the same.
Our times are very troublesome and uncertain. So many people have been affected by COVID 19 in so many different ways. We have no idea when this pandemic will end or what the ultimate impact will be on our society and our personal lives. Like the disciples during the Last Supper we are confused and don’t quite know what to think or how to feel.
As he told his disciples some 2000 year ago, today Jesus tells us not to let our heart be troubled because he is “the truth, the way and the life.” While comforting us he invites us to live and act as he did by loving one another as he has loved us.
4TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
IN THE YEAR OF SALVATION TWO THOUSAND TWENTY
MAY 3, 2020
We’re about six weeks in now, to our new home routine. We have our daily schedule for getting our work done for the Basilica, school work done with our kindergartener, getting outside, nap times (for our two year old, not us!), meals, the daily activities of family life. We have had a daily schedule posted like so many families, which most days is more of an indictment of our parenting and homeschooling skills rather than an organized plan for the day. I’ve found, like many, that most of our days really come down to about an hour at a time at most.
One hour I’m beginning the day thinking of those I know who are ill, or are not working, or just struggling with all that’s going on.
A bit later I’m wondering if a kindergartener could actually fail at distance learning?
Another hour I’m on my third scheduled Zoom meeting of the day.
Then I realize I missed the second scheduled Zoom meeting of the day (sorry Learning team).
One hour I’m explaining that we only have so many pairs of pink toddler pants to wear, and that black is the new spring color for two year olds.
Another hour I am so impressed by the way young adults support each other as they navigate this unprecedented time in different ways.
Then I’m saddened by another engaged couple emailing about the need to reschedule their upcoming wedding, having to completely re-think their special day.
Then I find myself reaching simultaneously with my wife for the iPad, to sign in to one more meeting, each of us assuming that the other one was going to watch the children for a bit. Communication is indeed a life long practice in marriage!
Finally I wonder if I’ve done enough to support my family, church and those in need that day. Most days end wondering when we can get back to normal, and asking where God is in all of this. Of course, I know that God promised to be with us, most especially with those who are hurting, but many days I can’t make much sense of this. And I take solace that in the very first “Easter season,” most of the disciples did not really understand what was happening either. What would their future be like? What were they to make of all that had occurred? What would happen to them, to those they loved? And in the midst of all that, Jesus came and offered his wisdom, peace and very self in breaking open the scriptures and sharing the bread. May we continue to share this goodness with each other in this season of resurrection, even as we struggle through this most difficult time.