What in the world is Jesus saying in this week’s Gospel?
The entire passage of John 14-21 seems like Jesus is saying things that contradict what we know about God.
I mean, what’s the first thing we tell children about Jesus. We tell them, Jesus loves you no matter what. And as they get a little older, it’s like Jesus loves you so much, he died for you and sacrificed himself on the cross so he could spend forever with you on earth and in heaven.
In other words, we tell children that Jesus’ love is unconditional and everlasting.
And yet, we have this mysterious message here from Jesus. Where he begins a statement on love with the word “If”. If you love me, you will keep my commandments and I will ask the Father, and he will give you the advocate to be with you always. If! If? Isn’t if a conditional phrase, if you do X then Y will happen to you but if you don’t do X then Y won’t happen.
Like with my children, hey maggie, if you eat your vegetables then you get a cookie. But if you don’t…no cookie.
So if you love me…you’ll keep my commandments and if you keep my commandments the Father will send you the Holy Spirit.
Jesus goes on to specify here what it means to have the Holy Spirit. And it’s no mere cookie after eating your vegetables. It means having an answer to the three deepest universal fears of the human person.
- Fear of Death – there are so many distractions in the world, there is no time for quiet or silence. Why? Because no one wants to be quiet long enough to confront their own mortality and the potential of eternal loneliness
Jesus says here that if you follow His commandments then you will never be alone. You will never be orphaned. Even in death, I’ll be there waiting for you.
- Fear of failing to reach your potential – why is victimhood so on the rise? Because if you’re a victim then you don’t have to try and you can bury the guilt you feel about not actually trying to become who you were made to be
Jesus says here in this passage, if you follow His commandments then the Holy Spirit will live in you…so that the things that Jesus did on earth, speaking truly, healing wounds, following God’s will no matter what, even the working miracles, those are things that you can do when you live with the Holy Spirit. You can become all you were made to be
Think about that as a Church, we never say this…if you follow his commandments you will reach your potential.
- Fear of not being loved – If people really knew me, they wouldn’t love me.
Jesus says plainly, if you keep my commandments, God’s love will be revealed to you. That everywhere you go, you will see Jesus, have a deeper understanding of Him and His ways. And when you die, God the Father will look at you, see Jesus, and welcome you into heaven.
So what’s going on here? Is Jesus’ love conditional? Thankfully, no. That’s not what’s going on here. What Jesus is talking about is a fundamental rule of spiritual physics.
God’s grace, his love, his presence is always before us and always available. It’s like a waterfall that never ceases. But it is never forced on us. It is something we can choose to drink from or not.
Jesus is saying very clearly, here is the path to the waterfall of blessing. Here it is. It’s hard, it’s not for the faint of heart, but it’s the answer to the deepest desires of the human heart.
He’s saying, what I did on Good Friday and Easter Sunday make God’s love and grace available to all of humanity…but all roads don’t lead to the waterfall. There’s just one. One narrow path that lead to it.
There are holy moments that lead to God. And there are unholy moments that lead away from him. Choose the Holy Moments and there is no telling the goodness and the joy that come from those Holy Moments. Choose unholy moments and….well, just look at our world today and you can see what happens if you do that.
Holy Moments. Unholy Moments. God’s way or some other way. Today Jesus says, everybody chooses one path, moment by moment of their lives, so when you choose, choose wisely.