Easter 6 C – Homilies and Stories


 Thomas O’Loughlin

Introduction to the Celebration

At Easter we recalled that we have died and risen in Christ in baptism. Today let us recall that, as his people sharing his life, we must be people of the Light. 

Gospel Notes

This is part of the conclusion to one Last Supper discourse in John where Jesus speaks about his departure, and in that context how he will remain present to his community. He has two gifts to the church: the Holy Spirit and peace. The Spirit is the one who continues the teaching of Jesus by keeping it in the memory of his disciples, and does not introduce a new or additional teaching. Peace is the gift that enables them to remain in love with each other and with the Father.

Background: 

John's Gospel obviously displays a much more developed theology then the three synoptic gospels. However, it was still written early in the so-called sub-apostolic time. The remarkable fact is not that there is a strong theological slant to it. Rather it is surprising how relatively early in the history of the early Church a strong Trinitarian perspective has emerged. The trajectory towards Nicea and the other early councils has already been set, thought he elaborate explanations have yet to appear. Associated with God even by the time of St. John are Jesus, and the Father, and the Paraclete, the advocate, the teacher, the protector, the guarantor of the peace that Jesus has given.  (Andrew Greeley)

Already we have hints that God is a community of relationships, that there is so much knowledge and love in God that the knowledge and love explode into distinct personages. This truth is revealed to test our faith, not to provide theologians with raw material for their speculations (though there is nothing wrong with that), but to dazzle us with the brightness of God's glory, the power of God's knowledge and the passion of God's love. The use of the word "spirit," a translation of the Hebrew word Shekenah hints at a maternal protection in God because the word is feminine in Hebrew - and was used in Hebrew folk religion as the name of Yahweh's consort. St. John had no thought of such matters, yet the gender of the noun might well be part of the meaning "in front of the text."

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Michel de Verteuil

General Textual comments 

In this second extract from the last discourse of Jesus we see various aspects of the spiritual life being brought out. The aspects are interconnected, but you can look at them separately if you like.

To understand the full force of verses 23 and 24 you must go to the previous verse, which is not included in this Sunday’s reading, where one of the apostles asks Jesus why he will not show himself to the whole world. Jesus’ response is to explain that following him involves an inner relationship which cannot be bypassed.

The second half of verse 24, and verses 25 and 26, show us Jesus facing the fact that much of his teaching was unfinished, and still more was misunderstood.

In verse 27 Jesus speaks of how he shares his inner peace with his followers.
In verse 28 he expresses how he is experiencing his imminent death.

In verse 29 he returns to the theme of the existing relationship between the disciples and himself, and contrasts this with how they will experience him after his death and resurrection.

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John Littleton

Gospel Reflection 

It is often said that God never closes one door without opening another. This is especially relevant when Jesus tells his disciples that he is about to leave them. It seems that the end is near, that God is closing the door which has opened his love to the world.

However, this suggestion is not true because, while Jesus is leaving, another door is being opened to his disciples. Jesus promises them the constant presence of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will inspire and motivate them. This promise comforts them as they begin to realise that Jesus will no longer be with them. The Holy Spirit will remind them about all that Jesus has taught them during his time with them.

Just as any good father, although separated from his children, is always with them in mind and in spirit, God is forever with us, his people. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, encourages Jesus’ disciples and rekindles his teaching and example in them. The presence of the Holy Spirit empowers the disciples to persevere in life’s dilemmas and conflicts without losing faith.

We speak of the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus’ disciples. But we too are Jesus’ disciples and his message is for us. God has given each one of us the gift of free will. Free will is about choice. It requires that we make decisions. Here God opens a door. We may choose to remain outside or to accept the invitation into a relationship with the Holy Spirit, the Advocate. In this relationship, the Holy Spirit guides our lives by influencing our choices and enlightening our decisions. The Spirit assists us to love Jesus by keeping his word. The Spirit also teaches us to recognise the difference between good and bad, between right and wrong.

Thus the Holy Spirit makes a major difference in our lives if we welcome his presence because he helps us to realise that God lives within us. We constantly need to be aware of God’s presence. When we understand that God lives in us and when we sense God’s presence, then we are at peace. The Spirit gives us peace, peace that the world cannot give. Furthermore, we are asked to share this peace with other people. In doing so, we help to bring them closer to God.

So, then, while Jesus prepares to leave his disciples, God opens another door. As disciples of Jesus we are challenged to dedicate our lives to him, confident that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything through the Church if we are open and willing. Jesus reminds us that we must not let our hearts be troubled or afraid. He never leaves us unaccompanied and unaided.

The Holy Spirit will be with us until the end of time. The question for us is: will we welcome and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit every day? We step forward together in faith, in that knowledge that the Spirit transforms us into the living people of the Resurrection if we are faithful to the teaching of Christ and his Church. Jesus’ historical presence in the world may be ending, but God never closes one door without opening another. 

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Homily Notes

1. Finding suitable ways to give a broad overview catechesis of what we believe in by saying Jesus rose from the dead and has shared his new life with us is something that has con­cerned preachers from the very beginning as we can witness, for example, in 1 Peter. What is needed is a rounded state­ment, that is accessible, memorable, and pictorial. The most frequently chosen image has been that of baptism – but while this is the foundational Christian symbol, its power for many today is limited as it is too often seen just as a family occasion or as rite for infancy. So even when we preach about it, we have to face the dissonance that an actual baptism may for those concerned involve more worry over the name to give the child than the ritual or its reality.

2. However, we must still use our great symbols and continue to expound them. One way of doing this is to take the prayer for the blessing of the water at baptism at the Easter Vigil (Missal, pp. 213-214) and go through it by way of a meditation with comments. This serves to recall that we are in Eastertide and calls up all the great images of Christian memory.

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Homily (ACP)


Saying Goodbye 

To speak a foreign language well, one needs to think in that language. Most beginners tend to translate from their mother tongue. I remember when I first started speaking French and I squirm now at the thought of what the unfortunate natives were subjected to. I was spending the summer working in a parish in the suburbs of Bordeaux. On one occasion I was invited out to dinner by a family in the parish. At one point during the meal, Madame offered me a second helping, which I declined. I should have said, Merci, non. J’ai bien mange. (No thank you. I have eaten well.) Instead. I used an expression which was commonly used in Ireland on such occasions and translated it literally into French. “No thanks. I’m full,” I said. There was a sudden burst of laughter from the younger members of the family which earned them a stem rebuke from Maman. Later I discovered the reason for their amusement. Their priest-guest had just informed them that he was pregnant. “To be full” was a local expression to describe the state of pregnancy.

French is a more precise language than English. It often has two words, where English has only one. “Goodbye” is a case in point. The French use Au revoir for those everyday temporary separations, while Adieu is reserved strictly for final definitive departures. There is no English translation but it means roughly “until we meet in heaven.” Life is a succession of Adieus. The number grows with the passing years. Our past is peopled with faces that once were dear to us. Some, like our parents, died. Others moved away out of our lives never to reappear again. Sometimes their names crop up in conversation and we say, “I wonder what became of so-and-so.” They probably make the same remark about us occasionally. Life is a series of little deaths until our own death which for us will be the last great Adieu. Paris must be the capital of goodbyes. People live there for a while and then move on and settle down elsewhere. With all its charm, it doesn’t seem the kind of city where people strike roots. More a temporary haven for nomads. The modern world is becoming more and more like Paris. It is said that Americans change home on average every four years. More often than you and I change our cars. And in this, as in so many other facets of life, we are all becoming more and more Americanised. Our “goodbyes” are growing at an ever accelerating rate.

We are, as never before, a pilgrim people. We need faithful friends who travel with us. In today’s gospel, Jesus is alerting his disciples to his imminent departure, his ascension into heaven. He doesn’t say Adieu but Au revoir. “I am going away and shall return.” We never say goodbye to God: He always goes with us. It is striking to note how immigrants who leave their families, friends, language and cultures and settle, often penniless and in a hostile environment, on the other side of the globe, begin by building houses of worship. Such was the case with the Irish in the second half of the nineteenth century in America or Australia. Such is the case today with Muslims from North Africa and elsewhere building mosques in France. God is all they have left to cling on to. It is a striking proof that God has kept his promise to be with us always. He will always keep his side of the bargain. It is up to us to keep ours. And when we come to the end of our pilgrimage here and have to make our last goodbye, it will be literally Adieu, i.e. “to God.”

The Listening side of Love

If we love God, we will do what he tells us to do. If we do what he tells us to do, God will make his home in us; all Three Persons of the Trinity. Love is what brings heaven down to earth. Peace is what flows from love, when my relationships are the way they ought to be.

Obedientia, the Latin for obeying, literally means to hold one’s ear against. The first rule of the road that we all learned was “Stop! Look! Listen!” Before you cross the railway tracks, stop and listen. There may be a train coming. If you hear a train coming, you will obey that reality, and wait until it has passed. During the years in which I was involved in teaching, I was quite familiar with the child who kept getting it wrong, who continued to be called to the Principal’s office. Allowing for deliberate cussedness, the main reason for this repetition of problems was that the child hadn’t really listened. What had been said on previous occasions had not sunk in. Just because I had said the words didn’t automatically mean that those words were listened to. If, however, I could gain the confidence and respect of the pupil, I would have some chance of being heard. We all have people in our lives that get our full attention, just as there are others to whom we don’t really tune in. They prattle on, and our attention is elsewhere. This can mean that, because they are not really important to us, what they have to say is not important either.

Faith is a response to love. There are people I do not trust, because I have no reason to believe that they have my best interests at heart. Don’t ask me to trust God until you have clearly shown me that God loves me first. “In this is love,” says John, “not that we love God, but that God first loved us.” When that simple truth makes its way through my head, when I know it, down into my heart, when I believe it, it may eventually make its way down into my feet, when I act upon it. Faith is love in action.

If I have a block of ice, a snowball, and a fist of hailstones, all I have is water in different forms. God is love, and each Person of the Trinity represents a particular expression of love. The Father’s love is creative, and it never becomes destructive. The Son’s love is redemptive, and there is nothing in us that is beyond the scope of his redeeming love. The Spirit’s love is renewing, recreating, making complete in us what was begun by the Father, and reclaimed or redeemed by Jesus; and there is no human weakness where this love cannot be seen and experienced as Power.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.” What a beautiful promise, what a special gift. Peace is not the absence of war. It is the presence of something real and tangible. It is something I can experience, and it results from having my relationships the way they ought to be. I will deal in greater detail with this later.

We are all familiar with invitation cards that have RSVP on them. The person is looking for a response from us. Every word that Jesus speaks is calling for a response. A rule of thumb is to learn to listen, and then listen to learn. Otherwise what Jesus is saying will go completely over my head. Scripture tells us that the word of God does not return to Him until it has achieved what it was intended to achieve. It always gets an answer, even if the answer is no. Jesus said “I will not judge them. The word I have spoken will judge them. If I had not come and spoken to them they would have an excuse for their sin…”

My response must be practical; it must entail doing something. Believing something up in my head is nothing more than mental assent. Knowing that Jesus is God is not faith. Satan knows that. Faith is not up in the head; it is in the heart, and it eventually makes its way down into my feet. It is only then that I will be prepared to step out, and act on the direction given me by Jesus. The message of the gospel is simple, definite, and direct. There is not one “maybe” or one “might” in all the promises of Jesus.

“Remember what I have told you…” Jesus must go so that the Spirit can come to complete his work on earth, and bring us the fullness of grace. It is the work of the Spirit in us that enables us to respond to the call of Jesus. There are two parts to the journey of salvation. Jesus travelled the first part on our behalf and the Spirit leads us through the final part. We cannot travel any part of either journey on our own. The gospels speak of Jesus being led by the Spirit. In almost every sentence in today’s gospel, Jesus is speaking about the Father and the Spirit. What’s involved here is our full sharing in the life of the Trinity.

Today’s gospel is a teaching. Supposing I was to read it slowly once more, or give it to you to reflect on for a while, what do you think would be its most important teaching for you? There is great emphasis on obedience, on doing what Jesus tells me. This is the proof that I love him, and that his message is getting a response from me. Coming to Mass here today is one of the ways in which you respond. The real response, of course, is in the heart. It is not what I do, but why I do it. I do it because Jesus asked me to do it. This has to do with forgiveness, charity, prayer, and how I treat my neighbor. 

Community of Relationships

John’s Gospel displays a much more developed theology than the three synoptic gospels. However, it was still written early in the so-called sub-apostolic time. The remarkable fact is not that there is a strong theological slant to it. Rather it is surprising how relatively early in the history of the early Church a strong Trinitarian perspective has emerged. The trajectory towards Nicea and the other early councils has already been set, though the elaborate explanations have yet to appear. Associated with God even by the time of St. John are Jesus, and the Father, and the Paraclete, the advocate, the teacher, the protector, the guarantor of the peace that Jesus has given.

Already we have hints that God is a community of relationships, that there is so much knowledge and love in God that the knowledge and love explode into distinct personages. This truth is revealed to test our faith, not to provide theologians with raw material for their speculations (though there is nothing wrong with that), but to dazzle us with the brightness of God’s glory, the power of God’s knowledge and the passion of God’s love. The use of the word “spirit,” a translation of the Hebrew word Shekenah hints at a maternal protection in God because the word is feminine in Hebrew – and was used in Hebrew folk religion as the name of Yahweh’s consort. St. John had no thought of such matters, yet the gender of the noun might well be part of the meaning “in front of the text.”

Once upon a time there was a high school with serious problems. The students (all boys, needless to say) were out of control and over the top. They smoked, they drank, they did drugs and all on the school campus. They hassled teachers, they shouted racial epithets at basketball games, they spread graffiti all over the school walls, the cursed at school administrators, they fought in the corridors. The religious order which ran the school had a long history of imposing discipline by physical force. The headmaster was a tough man who had struck terror into the hearts of the students at other high schools. They laughed at him. When he hit a student, the student hit him back. The student was expelled of course, but disrespect for the administration, the faculty and everything about the school continued unabated. So the order brought in one of its younger members to be the new head master. Veterans in both the order and the school ridiculed the appointment. The new man was nice enough, but he wasn’t tough. The school required a hard man instead the new head master was gentle, kind, even tempered, almost, said some of the worst cynics, womanly. Well, he wandered kind of aimlessly around the school, talked to the students, stood in the corridors looking kind of confused, laughed at their jokes and told jokes that they laughed at (even though they didn’t quite understand him literate wit). Before anyone knew what had happened he had charmed even the wildest of the hoods. The word went out that the new headmaster was like totally cool. The school settled down to mayhem no worse than that any all-male high school. You catch a lot of flies with honey, the new headmaster said.

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Prayer Reflections

Lord, many people in our country feel alienated,
they would like to be different from who they are,
to have lived at a different time, or belonged to a different culture.
We pray that they may come to love someone like Jesus
who will assure them that their stories, far from being drab or uninteresting,
are sacred stories,
and that they need not feel ashamed of who they are
because you, the great Lord and God, you feel at home with them.

Lord, the apostles often felt frustrated with Jesus;
they could not understand why he spent so much time with them alone.
They wanted him to hurry and let the whole world know what he was teaching them.
At one time, we too thought that the message of Jesus could be packaged
into a few brief commandments and marketed by radio and television.
Now we know from our experience that becoming his followers
is a personal journey that each one of us must make for ourselves.
We get a feel for the man Jesus and gradually
we learn to love his words so that they sink into our consciousness,
until one day we know that you have come into our lives
and whatever happens you will never leave us again.

Lord, we could know all the teachings of Jesus by heart,
but if we don’t have a personal relationship with him we will not keep them.

Lord, when Church leaders or State leaders become cruel or violent
it is because they have come to think that they are indispensable
and have forgotten that they are only your instruments.
Teach them to be like Jesus,
aware that their word is not theirs but the word of the one who sent them;
that they are here on earth for a short while saying what they have to say,
and they will soon move on.
But that will not be the end of your work,
because you will send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate,
and all the things they have taught he will teach again,
and he will remind people of whatever they have forgotten or not understood.

“If you desire peace, prepare for war.”  Roman proverb
Lord, the great powers can never bring peace to the world
because they want to impose it by force,
whereas, as Jesus taught, we cannot impose peace,
we can only share the peace that we have ourselves
as a gift that others are free to take or leave.

Lord, people have taught us facts and skills,
but there have been a few special people who have been like Jesus for us
in that they shared with us how they coped with life,
and their courage, their perseverance is like a precious inheritance
which we can build on in our own lives.

Lord, we thank you for the faith that enables us to let our loved ones go,
so that we can take leave of them
saying to ourselves, in the midst of our sorrow,
that since we love them we are glad to know that they are going to you,
their Father in heaven.

Lord, we become attached to the things which bring us close to you:
- our devotions and pilgrimages;
- the way liturgy is celebrated in our parish;
- our method of prayer.
When we have to give them up we become anxious and even angry.
But we have learned from experience
that we must not let our hearts be troubled or afraid
because you are greater than any manifestation of your presence,
and just as Jesus went away from his disciples and returned
so you will always show yourself to us in a new way.

Lord, we thank you for our parents.
Like Jesus with his disciples they told us things before they happened
and now that they have happened we can  believe.

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ILLUSTRATIONS:

1. The Irish Girl – a servant who became a daughter of the family: 

Once upon a time back in the last century there was a young woman from Ireland who had lost her parents and all her family. Some kind people wrote to their relatives in America and said we have this fourteen year old orphan here who is very bright and very pretty and very hard working, We don’t want her to go to the orphanage because she won’t have any opportunities there to develop her talents. Would you ever consider hiring her as a servant girl. You’d have to pay her way over on the boat, but she’ll work for nothing until she earns her fare. You won’t go wrong with her. So the Americans who could afford a serving girl, but never had one and weren’t altogether sure what they would do with such a person talked about it and said, well, what have to lose. So they sent the fare for the boat and the train. And waited for the young woman to come.  

 She sailed from Kinsale. The last she saw of Ireland were the twin spires of the church as they faded into the background. Weeks later, sick and thin and exhausted, she arrived in the city where her master and mistress lived. They took one look at the poor child and said, Dear, we don’t need a servant, but we have room for another daughter. When they brought her home the other children hugged her and said, hooray! We have another sister. With their help she grew up to go to college and university and become very successful and was a great credit to those who took her into their family. (The Trinity is a family into which God has invited us)

(Andrew Greeley)

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2. Calvin and Hobbes

One of the best newspaper cartoons of all time is Calvin and Hobbes. One day Calvin and Hobbes come marching into the living room early one morning. His mother is seated there in her favorite chair. She is sipping her morning coffee. She looks up at young Calvin. She is amused and amazed at how he is dressed. Calvin’s head is encased in a large space helmet. A cape is draped around his neck, across his shoulders, down his back and is dragging on the floor. One hand is holding a flashlight and the other a baseball bat.  

“What’s up today?” asks his mom.
“Nothing, so far,” answers Calvin.
“So far?” she questions.
“Well, you never know,” Calvin says, “Something could happen today.” Then Calvin marches off, “And if anything does, by golly, I’m going to be ready for it!”  

Calvin’s mom looks out at the reading audience and she says, “I need a suit like that!”

That’s the way many of us feel as we see the news and deal with life. Sometimes this world seems quite violent and people seem to be at each other’s throats. A suit like that would help, so we can say with Calvin, “Whatever may come my way, I’m going to be ready for it! Bring it on!”

Well, I don’t have a suit like Calvin’s to give you this morning, but I do have word for this morning: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There is a defining phrase in that statement. One that tells us what kind of peace it is that Christ gives us. Listen to it again and see if you can pick it out: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The defining phrase is: “Not as the world gives.” Do you see how that defines God’s peace? The world promises peace through the rule of law. Law and order is the only way for a society and a people to experience peace and law and order must be kept by the aggressive use of force. That’s the only way that the world can bring about peace. 

But here is how Jesus will give you peace. If you obey his word He and the Father will come to you and make a home with you. Right in your heart. Not by force but by choice. They will abide in your heart bringing peace. The world’s peace is peace through strength. The Lord’s peace is peace through surrender…

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 3. Little League season

It is the heart of Little League season, those spring days when children get their first experience of playing on a team, of learning about the rules of play, and of listening to and heeding their coach. Do you remember that first voice spoken into your ear as you stood at home plate, gripping the bat like a lifeline, waiting for that first pitch?  

Unlike the actual game, when coaches call out from the sidelines, in a baseball batting practice the coach is right behind the Little Leaguer — squaring their shoulders, positioning the bat, adjusting their grip, evening out their elbows, speaking instructions every step of the way. Chances are if you still play ball you still hear the echo of that first coaching voice in your head…

Elbows down.
Bat back to your ear.
Keep your eye on the ball.
Swing! 

Some voices stay with us forever. What voices have spoken into your life? Can you still hear them?

 There are voices of encouragement that urge us to keep trying, keep working, keep doing what we know is right.

There are also those voices we hear that accuse us of not being good enough, of being a failure, of not deserving anything better than what we’re getting.  

The voices we listen to in our heart and soul can strengthen us or shatter us, push us forward or pull us down. The power of the Voice we ultimately answer to can determine the destiny and direction of our life. 

In today’s gospel text from John, it is the power and authority of Jesus’ voice that transforms the life of one man…
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4. Live in the Light

I love a quotation and paraphrase of Martin Luther: “Can a rock that has been in the sunlight all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night?” Can a rock that has been in the warmth and heat of the sun light all day not fail to give off warmth and heat at night? Can a Christian who has lived in the sunlight of God’s love not fail to give off warmth and love? No. That is why you have to have first things first. You don’t say to others, “Start loving each other. Be nice. Be nice. Be nice.” No, no, no. First, we need to live in the sunlight of God’s love. We need to bake in the sunlight of God’s compassion. We need to absorb God’s light into us. And then…we start to give off the love. May your light shine on me, God. May your love shine on us, God, so that there will be peace in our family and on the earth.  

Edward F. Markquart, The Father is Still Living in Me
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5. A Greater Power Watching


There was a nature show on television about a black bear that gave birth to two cubs. One cub died right away. Three weeks later the mother died and the remaining cub was left to fend for itself. An orphaned cub in that condition is like a walking buffet for predators. And of course the camera immediately showed a hungry-looking mountain lion.  

One day the orphan cub encountered a giant male black bear. The little cub cowered at the bear's sheer mass. The larger bear peered around and seemed to realize that the mother bear wasn't anywhere to be found. He gave the little cub a friendly nudge. The camera then showed the little bear happily trailing along after the larger one. The adoption papers were signed, sealed and registered at the county seat in that nudge. Papa bear proceeded to show the cub how to grub for insects and how to catch fish and how to scratch his back against a tree.  

One day the two bears became separated. The cub began to cry and looked frantically for his new father, but couldn't find him anywhere. The cub approached a stream where he'd learned to fish and something caught his attention. He looked up to see a mountain lion ready to pounce. That same mountain lion had stalked the cub for the entire show. There was no way that mountain lion would've gone for that cub with Papa bear around, but now.... 

The camera zoomed in on the cub. He automatically mimicked the posture of his adopted father when threatened. He stood on his hind legs and bared his teeth. Then, in the exactly the same way his new father would have done, this cub let loose a mighty growl that should have reverberated throughout the forest. But, only a tiny bear cub squeak came out.  

Well, you know what was coming. But, to everybody's astonishment the mountain lion lowered his head and ran off in the opposite direction. 

The camera panned back to the proud little cub still standing tall on his hind legs. And then all the viewers saw what that little cub Could Not: a few yards behind him, at full, ferocious height, his sharp, white teeth bared in a snarl, stood Daddy bear. He may not have made a sound, but he was there.

And even though the cub couldn't see his father, his father stood guard, protecting his young. The little cub had power available greater than anything he could produce on his own. There was a greater power watching over him.  

Jesus said, [21] "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."

Billy D. Strayhorn, What Difference Does It Make?
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6. Selfish and Altruistic at the Same Time  

Speaking about how human beings spend their time and thus may be pictured in novels, E. M. Forster says, "When human beings love they try to get something. They also try to give something, and this double aim makes love more complicated than food or sleep. It is selfish and altruistic at the same time, and no amount of specialization in one direction quite atrophies the other" (Aspects of the Novel [Orlando: Harcourt, 1927] 50).

On the verge of his departure from them, Jesus says to his loved ones, "If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28b). This is so hard! How can the disciples rejoice that Jesus is leaving? What makes possible that kind of atrophied selfishness and robust altruism?

Mary Hinkle Shore, Enough
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7. The Overwhelming Future
 This week someone left a cartoon on the Xerox machine at my office in which a man was lying on the couch of a psychiatrist. When the psychiatrist asked the client what his problem was he confided that he had all kinds of fears about the future. “Doctor,” he began, “I’m worried about the energy crisis, inflation, the situation in the Middle East, political and social upheaval in Africa, our diplomatic relations with China …” I wish I could remember all of the concerns of the man in the cartoon; there were at least a dozen. In the final frame the psychiatrist responded, “Shut up and move over,” after which he proceeded to get on the couch with the patient.

A cartoon such as this would be much more amusing if it did not contain so much truth. The problems of the future are almost overwhelming. Those in a position to know the facts are privately saying that things are not nearly as bad as they seem—they are worse. Public officials seem to have taken the same approach to our national problems as many doctors do with a terminally ill patient—keep the unpleasant truth from them as long as possible.
Jesus doesn’t hold to that particular philosophy.  

Bob Deffinbaugh, Facing the Future: A Prescription for Peace
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8. A Place of Peace 

Jesus was preparing his disciples for tough times. He was about to ascend to the Father and they would be on their own -- left to find their way through this world alone. And yet, they would not be alone. For he would be with them in the presence of the Comforter, the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan battled for an entire year to find a passage around South America. There at the very tip of the continent, in its icy waters he encountered some of the worst weather anywhere on earth. Raging seas, towering ice floes, and a mutinous crew plagued his efforts. When he finally made his way through those straits (which today bear his name -- the Straits of Magellan), he entered into a great body of water that lay beyond, and as he and his men lifted their faces to heaven and gave thanks to God, he named the new ocean "The Peaceful One -- the Pacific Ocean."

In his words this morning, Jesus desires to lead us in the same way to a place of peace. It is his hope to direct our feet and steer our lives from the paths that would lead to hell to his place of peace. "Let not your hearts be troubled," he says, "neither let them be afraid."

Lee Griess, Sermons for Lent/Easter, CSS Publishing Company
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9. No Reason to Be Afraid 

The late advice columnist Ann Landers use to receive something like 10,000 letters a month. When asked what seems to be the most common topic, she answered that most people seem to be afraid of something. They are afraid of losing their health, their job, or their family. They are afraid of upsetting their neighbor, alienating a friend, or committing a social faux pas. Many are even afraid when there is no reason to be afraid. Ours is a world of fearful people.

Lee Griess, Sermons for Lent/Easter, CSS Publishing Company
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10. I Want Peace 

When Dante knocked at the door of the Franciscan monastery at Lunigiana he was asked, "What do you want?" He replied, "Peace!"

 Traditional
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11. Mommy, Was That God? 

I recall the story of a little girl who, when trains were popular transportation, was taking her first train ride with her parents. As night descended, the mother took the girl, who was clearly quite anxious, and placed her on the upper bunk of the sleeper. She told her little one that up there she would be nearer to God and that God would watch over her.

 As silence enveloped the young lady she became afraid and called softly, "Mommy, are you there?"

"Yes dear," came the response.

A little later, in a louder voice, the child called, "Daddy, are you there, too?"

"Yes dear," was the reply.

 After this had been repeated several times one of the passengers sharing their sleeper car finally lost his patience and shouted loudly, "Yes, we're all here, your father, your mother, your brother, and all your aunts and cousins; now settle down and go to sleep!"

 There was a moment of silence and then… in hushed tones a little voice asked, “Mommy, was that God?”

We never truly outgrow the uneasiness, the fear of being abandoned, especially in unknown
settings and circumstances, do we?

Imagine the disciples. They have left everything to follow Jesus. They have spent the better
part of 3 years with him, every day, night and day. They are all in the prime of their lives, and
suddenly, earnestly, Jesus starts to talk about “going away.” They ask questions, clearly anxious about being left alone. And Jesus promises them that he will not leave them orphaned. [cf. John 14:18] Then he issues a rather clear directive to them. “Those who love me will keep my word ... whoever does not love me does not keep my words;” [from John 14:23-4] And he follows this up with a reminder, “and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.” [John 14:24b]
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Stories from Father Tony Kadavil's Stable:

# 1: Helen Keller’s indwelling God? The story is told that after Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan, had given her the names of physical objects in sign language, Miss Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Miss Sullivan’s surprise, Helen spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God’s name, Teacher, for he has touched me many times before." How could Helen Keller have known about God? Although she was blind and deaf, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is “revelation” of an indwelling God about whom today’s scripture speaks.  
 
# 2: Temples of the Triune God: St. Francis of Assisi was an ardent advocate of the doctrine of the indwelling of God in man. It enabled him to love every one equally whatever his status in life. One day he met a fellow who had no love for God. As they walked along they met a man who was blind and paralyzed. St. Francis asked the sightless cripple: “Tell me if I were to restore your eyesight and the use of your limbs, would you love me?” “Ah,” replied the beggar, “I would not only love you but I would be your slave for the rest of my life.” “See,” said Francis to the man who maintained that he could not love God, “this man would love me if I gave him his sight and his health. Why don’t you love God Who created you with eyesight and strong limbs?” That is what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. If we love him because of the countless blessings he has given us by “keeping his words” he will start dwelling within us in the company of his Father and the Holy Spirit, making us the temples of the Triune God. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne)

 # 3: The most unpromising boy in my class:" A schoolmaster in France was discouraged with one of his students. He wrote in his roll book concerning this student: "He is the smallest, the meekest, the most unpromising boy in my class." Half a century later, an election was held in France to select the greatest Frenchman. By popular vote, that meekest, smallest, most unpromising boy was chosen. His name? Louis Pasteur, the founder of modern medicine. When he was seventy-three, a national holiday was declared in his honor. He was too weak to attend the ceremony in Paris, so he sent a message to be read by his son. The message read: "The future belongs not to the conquerors but to the saviors of the world" [Edward Chinn, Wonder of Words (Lima, Ohio: C.S.S. Publishing Co., Inc., 1987), p. 18.] Louis Pasteur was driven by a great purpose. Your name and my name may never be a household word like Pasteur's, but we, too, can be driven by a great purpose. Christ can give us that purpose. But there is one thing more Christ gives us. He gives us the presence of the Holy Spirit as promised in today’s gospel. A healthy sense of identity and a driving purpose are not enough in themselves. One thing more is needed. It is the in-dwelling Spirit of the living God.

# 4: Here is an Irish lyric: "Paddy Murphy went to Mass, never missed a Sunday. But Paddy Murphy went to hell, for what he did on Monday."

# 4:  Don’t lose your mental peace: The Sunday school children had all been photographed with pastor sitting in their center. The pastor was trying to persuade the children to buy a copy of the group photo.

"Just think how nice it will be to look at it when you are all grown up and say, 'There's Jennifer; she's a lawyer,' or 'That's Michael; he's a doctor.'

A small voice at the back of the room rang out, "And there's our pastor; he's dead."

# 5:  Peace and Relaxation: Did you know that.....If you can start the day without caffeine, if you can get going without pep pills, if you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, if you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles, if you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, if you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time, if you can take criticism without resentment, if you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him, if you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend, if you can conquer tension without medical help, if you can relax without liquor, if you can sleep without the aid of drugs, ...Then You Are Probably The Family Dog!