Readings (Year C):
Reflection: Move through the cross
One of my favorite lines from the Rule of Benedict reads: “As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.”
God created our hearts to overflow with the inexpressible delight of love. In today’s Gospel, Jesus highlights two characteristics of Christian love: generosity and courage.
Jesus calls his followers to love generously.
Jesus tells the disciples, “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father …” This type of generous, expansive love can be really challenging to practice. Of course, we want our beloved friends to live into the fullness of their callings. We know that their whole purpose in life does not revolve around us. Other people are not ours to possess. Still, the departure of a dear friend can evoke difficult feelings. How will the relationship change when we are not together every day? Will we still be as close?
It’s easy to imagine the disciples asking difficult relational questions as their dear friend Jesus prepares to be assumed into heaven. Still, a generous spirit and a hurting heart can coincide in one body. Jesus calls the disciples to move through this transition with generosity. Rejoice that I have accomplished my life’s work. Rejoice that I am going to the Father. Rejoice that I will take you with me, for where I am you will also be.
Jesus calls his followers to love courageously.
Jesus tells the disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Now, I don’t think Jesus expects his followers to never feel these profoundly human emotions. The Son of God knows better than anyone that hard things happen. Hearts get hurt. Sin and suffering remain strong forces in our world even with the promises of Easter. Abbot John Klassen, OSB, of Saint John’s Abbey spoke powerfully to this reality on Good Friday when he said:
“We can never really know the resurrection of Christ if we drive around the cross.”
To get to resurrection, we must move through the cross. Suffering and death, hope and resurrection, are always part of the same story. Jesus calls us to move through the crosses of our lives with courage. Courage does not erase suffering. Rather courage recognizes human hardship and says: move forward anyway. Feel troubled and move forward anyway. Feel afraid and move forward anyway. You can do it. You are never alone. My Spirit is with you always.