Sixth Sunday of Easter A
Updated: May 22, 2020
May 17, 2020
John 14: 15-21
By Rev. John Tran
There is a story about a woman, Dorothy, who was listening to a Christian radio station as she drove to the grocery store one morning. The radio preacher was talking about kindness. He said, “I wonder how many of you are listening to me on your car radio and thinking of how you can be kind while driving?” Dorothy began thinking about what he was saying. A few blocks away, she saw a woman waiting in her car to come out of her driveway. Traffic was heavy, and Dorothy knew this woman would have a hard time getting out, so she slowed down and let her back out. The woman smiled and waved. When she got to the grocery store, Dorothy saw a parking space. As she started pulling in, another car on the opposite side began to pull into the same spot. Once again, Dorothy backed out and found another parking spot. As they both got out of their cars, the driver of the other car said, “I can’t believe what you just did. Anyone else would have made me back out.” Dorothy explained what she had heard on the radio about showing love. The two women began talking. Dorothy discovered the woman had just moved into the area, didn’t know anyone, and was looking for a Church. “I invited her to come to our Church,” Dorothy says, “and a strong friendship has blossomed from our chance meeting and a small act of kindness.” This story illustrates that one can experience the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and act according to His promptings — just as Dorothy and the apostle Philip did.
In today’s gospel from John, Jesus emphasizes again that the only thing necessary for life is to love Jesus, and if we do, we will observe his commandments. It seems so simple. Of course, the key thing is the way we do love Jesus. That is the crucial thing for salvation. Next, Jesus tells us that we will not be left orphans, that is fatherless, or without the Lord as our Leader or Rabbi. He says that he will leave us for a while and then be with us again. He will die and then rise to life again in a new way. And we will be alive in a new way also. He tells us that he will go to his Father, but will leave us an Advocate, or in Greek, a Paraclete.
Just what is this Advocate? In Greek, Paraclete is a legal term; it means a person who ‘is called in;’ but it is the reason that the person is called in that gives the word that give the word its distinctive implications. The term is used in a variety of ways. A Paraclete or advocate might be called into court to give witness in someone's favor; or the advocate might be called in to plead one’s cause when the person is charge with some serious crime; or the advocate might be an expert called in to give advice in a difficult situation. An advocate might be called in to help when a person is depressed, troubled or in doubt or bewilderment. In Jesus case this Advocate is the Holy Spirit who will teach us all things and how to cope with all things. The Holy Spirit comes to us and takes away our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life. The Spirit substitutes victorious for defeated living. This is how Dorothy's life was changed, and that of her new friend.
So what Jesus is saying is: ‘I am setting you a hard task, and I am sending you out on an situation that is very difficult. But I am sending you an advocate who will guide you in what to do and who will make you able to do it. Notice, not just to tell us what to do, but to make us able to do it. This is what brings us new life.
No doubt, at this point the disciples are only concentrating on the fact that Jesus would leave them. They really cannot hear the rest of his message of love and concern; more that concern, but telling who he will be with them and care for them. They only hear the word, orphan, and do not take in resurrection or being sent a wonderful paraclete, advocate, one who takes care of and enables them to really be alive. But after the resurrection they did hear it; most of all, we hear it.
So, in this passage, Jesus shares with us several things that are never far from his mind. Things that have been his message from the beginning. First and foremost, Jesus is love. Love is the basis for all things. It is not just sentimental love, but love with purpose, love that gives all, love that costs us to give. Jesus so wants us to know that he loves each of us; and he wants us to love one another just as he loves us; enough to suffer for, put up with us as we are, and even die for us.
This love is not just to feel good and be satisfied that we have done good, but rather to have placed ourselves on the line for someone. Second, the proof of our love for Jesus is that we are obedient to his word and commandments. Remember, that commandment is a new commandment: to love one another as I have loved you. This is our new life which Jesus gives us, and allows us to share it with others like Dorothy and Philip. This love leads us to ultimate safety: on the day Jesus comes again, all who are lovingly obedient to Jesus are safe in a fading world. Also, this love leads us to everlasting life with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.