Do you tire of all the hand wringing people are doing in their doubt that God will come through in our world’s current events? Are you weary of pundits who feed fear to us, profiting from our disordered attachment to what is happening around us? Anthony Lilies writes that we can always live as if this moment is the most desperate and the worse thing that has ever happened, and when we do, we are vulnerable to despair. Despair is anti-christ thinking, it is pervasive in the culture around us, and it can wreak havoc on our souls if we allow it. So what are we to do as Christians when we see what is happening in the culture? When we are left fretting over whether or not God will come through for us in what we perceive as the most tumultuous time of history. Enter Jesus’ words in today’s gospel reading:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify
because you have been with me from the beginning.
“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”
The Gospel According to St. John 15:26-16:4a
As I meditated on the gospel reading for today, I kind of felt like I was eavesdropping on an intimate conversation between friends, a kind of conversation in which you sense a certain onus in Jesus’ words to his closest friends. He knew the joy and tumult that lay ahead for them, but he also knew that they were the fulfillment of God’s Covenant in his Church. He had revealed the Father to them and lived out the Truth of God’s covenant with humanity. He had revealed to them the way out of their fear and doubt and into the divine communion of The Holy Trinity, but now his physical presence would leave them to fulfill his purpose to suffer for humanity. He would resurrect from his death on the cross and ascend to heaven to reunite with God. The fledgling disciples would not be left alone, for God would reveal himself even more! Simply put, Jesus, the Son of God, would change places with the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit would accomplish the providence of God even as the free will of humanity rails against it. And how he would do that is a mystery to us, but at least we know this; he fills one person at a time with his Holy Spirit’s hope and courage. Think about that for a moment. In light of the Scripture, what stirs in your spirit given the condition of our time in history?
The Catechism of The Catholic Church, in speaking of the revelation of God through the Holy Spirit refers to words written by St. Paul and St. Peter in their letters to the Early Church. “It pleased God, in His goodness and wisdom, to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become shares in the divine nature.” CCC 51
God has not changed his mind about us. We have The Advocate of all time–God’s counsel is greater than the present threats of war, rising inflation, and crumbling morality; they don’t define what is going on. His love surpasses circumstances, and the testimony of that love in us reveals a higher path than the culture! Can we be confident of this? Can we live knowing that our present history wasn’t overlooked when he created us, became one with us, and filled us with his spirit? Can we live as the Early Church lived, confident that the Holy Spirit never ceases to advocate for us and that he always wins God’s case?
Jesus declared to his disciples what he declares to us, I have told you this so that you may not fall away. Friend, we fall away from confidence in the sovereignty of our LORD when we wallow around in the mire of present circumstances. What he declared to his disciples, he declares to us right now! I have told you this so that when [your] hour comes you may remember that I told you. Friend, our hour has come to testify by our lives–attitudes, posture, words, thoughts–that the Holy Trinity is present and actively completing the work of the salvation of Creation. We have not been abandoned! We are here, now, moment by moment to allow the Holy Spirit to complete in us what was from the beginning: God is Love, and he romances all humanity back to his love. He will complete in us what he desires; he will complete in the events of this present time what he desires. All we need to do in response to his providence is to stop navel-gazing!
We often chant, Here I am Lord, I come to do your will as we celebrate the Mass, but can we chant those words in our moment by moment love for our Savior and LORD?
We pray I want to know Him, more than I know anything else, but can we pursue that knowledge when we are taken captive by the lesser things around us?
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity prayed that she would become the praise of God’s glory by bringing to completion what his Holy Spirit desires. Can we pray that for ourselves?
I read a priest’s prayer recently who was weighed down by the crushing responsibilities of shepherding his people during the traumatic years of the World Wars. He received a consolation from the LORD from the Spirit, “Child, I love you, I know all about your cares; I want you to bring them to me, but don’t bring your solutions.” OUCH!
Oh LORD, we get caught in the maze of earthy solutions and they lead us to more despair rather than to your faithful love for all humanity. Holy Trinity of God, we want to be confident that you know what’s going on, give us the courage to let go of our over-weaning fears and pride that keep us in that maze.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end.