One of the greatest sufferings we humans fear and endure is being abandoned or ignored. We may grow up, but we never outgrow our need for attention, care, compassion, and for feeling recognized, respected and loved. Today’s Gospel reading from John reads almost like a love letter. The words Jesus speaks show how much he loves his people, how much he loves us. “I will not leave you desolate.”
In moments of pain and tribulation, we may question whether God really cares. Does God really know us by name? Is God concerned about our personal well-being, especially when we suffer? Can we really experience God’s supportive presence in our lives? Jesus understood these needs and did not want his disciples to despair over his absence.
In this gospel passage Jesus assures us that we are never left alone, that he himself would be present in love. Love manifests itself with certain recognizable characteristics. If we really love someone, we want to be united – somehow present – with that person. Jesus promises that just as he lives in the Father, he will live in us. If we love someone dearly, we will want to live with them forever. Jesus promises that just as he lives eternally, so shall we live with him eternally. When we love someone, we are there with help and support. Jesus promises to send God’s Spirit, the Consoler of our every ill, to be there for us at all times. We are not left alone.
With the assurance that we are loved and will never be left desolate, the question remains: How do we connect with the supportive and encouraging presence of Jesus? Better, how responsive are we to his presence? If Jesus is faithful and present, do we turn to him in faith? Do we ever meditate on his presence within us? When we need help and advice, do we turn to the Consoler dwelling within? Are we comfortable bringing our needs and fears to Jesus? And when we pray, do we ever silence ourselves – not just our mobile phones – long enough to listen expectantly to what he may say in the depths of our hearts?
God’s faithful and loving presence in us is fact, but we have to do our part in acknowledging that presence and making it real for ourselves. It’s our move! When a helping hand is offered to us, it’s up to us to take it. When we despair whether God really cares for us, is it because we’re upset that God is not making some dramatic overtures on our behalf? We would love to sit back and be taken care of, or have our problems removed, but it doesn’t work that way. When we are sick, we must seek medical attention. When we need help from a spouse or friend, it’s up to us to ask. When we need legal advice, we need to call an attorney. It is foolish to question whether doctors or lawyers are available for us, or whether our spouses or friends really care. Of course they do. But it’s up to us to make the move to get what we need; the ball is in our court! So it is with God’s gracious presence.
We are never abandoned. God will not leave us desolate. God is faithful, but so must we be! We need to do our part to communicate with God ever present within us: Speak to God dwelling in our hearts. Let us be honest in our prayer. Let us share with God our joys and sorrows, our excitement and fears, our successes and needs. Ponder God’s presence. Be still and listen for the assurance of God’s voice hidden deep within our souls.
PRAYER FOR THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER
O God of Easter Life, you have saved us in Christ, your Son, who was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit. In answer to Christ’s prayer, give us another Advocate to be with us always, the Spirit of truth, so that in the joy that comes from you, we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us. We make this prayer through our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ, our Passover and our peace, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.