Homily for 22 May 2022 by Fr. Gerard Jonas
Sixth Week of Easter
To lose is to gain
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Ps 66 (67); Rev 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29
Why do we enjoy watching movies when we know that in the end, the protagonist would win? It interests and entertains us to see how, let’s say, the superhero would overcome the latest villains with their challenges. We somehow project the denouement- the ending, but the struggle to reach it is what matters. The suspenseful twists may complicate the plot but we know we’re in for a feel-good conclusion.
In the Gospel today, the Lord Jesus seems to divulge a ‘spoiler.’ He straightforwardly said, “…I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.” He revealed that He has to go away and that it will be in the best interest of his followers. How can losing be gainful? Unless of course, it’s about losing weight for weight-watchers.
Let’s go over what Jesus really said.
First, the Lord said, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” What does it mean to love, and to keep his word, and to dwell? To love is to maintain that intimate relationship. To keep his word is to live by His command which is to love as expressed in service to others. And to do this is to give witness to God’s life in us, for Jesus also said, “…and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” It is the indwelling of God that enables us to love and serve.
Furthermore, Jesus assures us of enduring assistance, of an ‘Enabler,’ “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.” so there’s really nothing to worry about. Indeed, to lose is to gain. To lose Christ’s physical companionship is to gain God’s enduring spiritual companionship. In the Lord’s 33 years, more than 2 thousand years ago, he was only physically present to those around Him, to Mary and Joseph and their relatives, and His disciples and friends. But after those 33 years, we continue to enjoy His loving and merciful presence to this day and will continue to enjoy it in the days to come. Leaving his disciples two thousand years ago enables Him to be universally present to all and through all, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And what is the indicator of the Lord’s abiding presence with us? It is what He left us when he departed from the company of his disciples. He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Yes, it is the Lord’s peace that we enjoy even in the midst of all our trying moments. And it is up to us to take cover under this mantle of peace and we give witness to our faith and love of God as expressed in service to our sisters and brothers.
St. Augustine has a beautiful definition of peace. According to him, peace means: “Serenity of the mind, simplicity of heart and tranquility of soul.”
Serenity of the mind is to not be overwhelmed by fears and so not to worry too much. Sometimes we tend to uselessly exaggerate and anticipate the worrisome outcome of things, so that, someone said that 80 percent of the things we worry about never happen, and 15 percent of the misfortunes we worry about don’t take place as seriously as expected. The remaining 5 percent are manageable and easy to handle. What a waste of 95 percent of how much we worry!
Simplicity of heart means the temperance of our emotions so that without it, we let our emotions run wild. We get angry and we get envious. Notice the violence going on around us – the road rage, the war, the unprovoked shootings, because of too much self-centeredness and self-entitlement. To simplify our wants, desires and needs gives us contentment.
Tranquility of the soul speaks of finding rest in God. Peace replaces restlessness. Indeed, the heart is restless until it rests in God.
Peace is not an object we pursue. It is a resultant condition we attain to, so much as love is not a condition or state we attain to but the act of participating in God’s life of compassionate companionship.
As we near winding up this glorious season of Easter, may we never lose all that the Risen Lord has wrought for us. And may we continue to enjoy and in turn be instruments of his abiding presence and peace in us and through us.