Commentary on the Gospel of
Yesterday, here in North America, was the celebration of Mothers and Mother’s Day. This is the annual day of reverencing the women who live the vocation of giving life in so many ways to the world. The day is the day of honoring explicitly the one woman who gave each of us breath, blood, life and all the rest. They and she have been, are and will always be, a graced partner in all we were, are and will be.
Jesus is having a family-talk with His Apostles in today’s readings and throughout these five chapters from John’s Gospel known as the “Last Discourse.” Chapter 14, from which we hear today, contains three childlike questions asking Jesus for further clarity about the future. Jesus has been reminding them about the past and making promises about His future and theirs.
My dear mother had a magic palm, which seemed to disappear when we grew up. At various times she would gather us, the three older ones and ask us to stick out our palms. She would trace her finger along palmlines and pause, look intently again and tell us things which were going to happen, either soon or most often, later. She would tell us to write them down and remember the prediction when and if they came true.
Yes! Of course, she had arranged the future, or she knew everything and we came to trust her and her care for us. She could even, less often, predict what my father was going to do and that did take some planning all right.
Three weeks from yesterday the Church will be celebrating its creation or establishment by the descent of the Holy Spirit during the Jewish festival of Pentecost or the Feast of Seven Weeks of the first crops. We hear Jesus’ making predictions and promises. He does not answer the questions of His friends, just as my mother would only smile and say, “You will see.” These verses and most of the verses in these chapters, reveal Jesus inviting the hearers to recall what they have heard and seen and to trust the God of their Jewish tradition to be with them into their futures. We hear their childlike fears and fragilities and we know that theirs are also ours.
Our doubts and hopes as we sat by our mother’s side, hands outstretched, formed the context for faith in her love and trust in her power. There must be questions, doubts; wonderings if there is going to be love and faith. As we three looked doubtfully around our second-floor flat on the near-west side of Milwaukee, we had plenty of evidence that we needed some good things to happen and pretty darn soon. We look around fearfully, wonderingly at the conditions of our second-floor world and we find doubts creeping in to our minds and prayers about whether God is giving up on us. We have to be honest about doubt to be humbled in our kneeling down and holding out our hands to receive the fulfillment of promises made. We may not always feel faithful or even in a loving relationship with Jesus. Perhaps He asks not so much that we feel affectionately, but trustingly get off our knees and continue walking into our futures and His.