The Sixth Sunday in Easter, Year A
When I was a kid, I kind of grew up with a lot of science fiction as part of my diet, both in reading and and watching TV. And one of the wonderful things about sci-fi is you can kind of imagine almost any situation, any scenario whatsoever, anything is is possible. And so when I began to then move into an experience of faith. One of the things that I find myself doing was imagining what would it be like if I was able to go back in time to be with Jesus and the disciples.
You know how much better would it be that I was actually able to be there to hear him teach directly, to ask him the kind of questions that had burned away in my heart. You know – how amazing must that have been to be able just to to walk with the Lord and to hear him directly, to see with our own eyes. You know so much better than having just to to hear the stories of the the priest who rambles on at the the front of the church.
Have you ever kind of imagined what it would have been like? Who have been there at the time of Jesus just to to hear him teach, just to see him heal with your own eyes, to to imagine. You know what a difference that might make?
Of course, one of the realities is that when we read the Gospels. Jesus doesn’t actually answer a lot of the questions that he is asked. In fact, across the four gospels, there are 307 questions that Jesus is asked, but he only answers three of them directly. So I don’t think going there and and actually listening to Jesus. You might have actually answered the questions that we had most of the time Jesus answers the question with the question. He leads us further into this rabbit hole of of faith.
The other thing, of course, is that even the disciples who were there at the time of Jesus who walked with him, who saw all of the mighty deeds that he did, they still denied him. They still ran away at the time of the passion. They weren’t able to experience that richness, so perhaps going back in time isn’t the great solution that. Many of us imagine when we were younger, I think what the gospel today presents is a way for us to continue to encounter the presence of. God, that Jesus says, you know, quite simply, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. And we’re like, OK, that makes sense.
But how, how do we love you and how do we keep your commandments? How do we actually live that out in our lives? That’s where the rubber hits are. That’s where this experience really gets to be, you know, much more difficult to. To actually be present. To love the Lord. But then I think Jesus realises that we’re going to struggle. He knows his disciples. He knows that they’re they’re going to find it difficult to be faithful to his teachings and to his commandments. And so he makes this extraordinary promise. I will send you. And the word is parakletos and. In the Greek and it’s it’s hard to to kind of translate because it’s such a rich idea. That we need a number of different words to try and capture the essence of what that one is for us in English.
Apparently the advocate, the comforter, the one who comes and draws alongside of you, the one who reminds you of the teachings. Of Jesus, the one who is able just to be there to hold you, to sustain you when you need that you know when you need that comfort, you need that presence. The spirit is there to come alongside you. Remember that Jesus himself promised that he would be the Emmanuel, the one who is with us, the God who is present to us, the with us. God is the literal translation of Emmanuel that Jesus wants to be that presence with us, that the father is the one who is in front of us. Inviting us along the way, calling us into life. Jesus is the one who is indeed there with us, who will continue to journey with us. With the spirit. Is available in even a more extraordinary way.
The spirit of God is as close as the breath that we take that the spirit is within us, calling us and reminding us that we are not alone in this. Jesus tells us today in the gospel too, that he will not leave us orphans. He will not abandon us. You know, so often we do feel to be alone in the world that no one is quite able to understand us to quite appreciate our sense of humour or all the richness of of the way that we live our lives. But the Lord. He is there. He will not abandon us. He will not forsake us. He’s always available to us in and through the spirit in and through that gift of his love and his goodness and his grace that is available to us. The God is is not some distant character. Written simply in a novel written a long way away a long time ago in the Galaxy far, far away. But he’s there available now. He’s with us now.
Available now for us to continue to journey with us, to continue to walk alongside us. And how different are our lives when we begin to live that reality. When we begin to experience the with us. God, now to the presence of the Advocate, who draws alongside us, who is allowed to be present within us, that we don’t have to just go back and imagine what it would be like to be in the presence of God, because he’s available to us right now. He’s here. For us, he is with us now. He is the God, as Saint Paul says at the Areopagus in the acts of the Apostles, he is the God in whom we live and move and have our being. The God who is available now. The God who is able to change us. The God who’s able to be present to us. It doesn’t necessarily make it a whole lot easier in our prayers to to realise that he’s here. He’s available and he simply loves us and is wanting to hold us and to sustain us in this moment. But that’s the. Truth our God is with us now. God is available and how different are our lives when we begin to live that reality?
The simple truth that God is not a long way away. A long time ago. But God is now and God is here, and God is free and available wherever we are. It’s not even just when we come to church. That God is available whenever we turn our hearts to him, because even that moment of turning our lives, turning our attention towards God is already an act of the spirit. It’s already that impulse that comes from God. Whenever we feel drawn to prayer, that’s already a sign that God is at work within us. All of those signs, all of those actions, are the our our simple response in love to the love that has already been shown to us. How do we keep these commandments? How do we love God by simply letting ourselves be filled with his presence? By letting our God be available to us in the way that he’s so wanting and so longing to be available. To us, let’s open ourselves. Let’s allow for gift of God’s love to change us. Let’s allow his love to be the reality that we live within this day and let God continue to love us and call us into life today.