The Gospel according to John (16:5-11)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me;
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I can scarcely imagine the anguish of Your Apostles at the knowledge that You would soon be leaving them physically. But, You never left them spiritually because You gave them Your Spirit. Help me to be open to the promptings of that Spirit, that I may walk closer to You each day of my life’s journey. Amen.
Saying “goodbye” to someone whom we love is very difficult. Particularly, if we don’t know when we may see that beloved individual again. It is like we leave a bit of our own heart with that person and aren’t complete until we are together again. The deeper the love, the harder it is to ultimately say “goodbye”.
As followers of Christ, though, we have the assurance that saying “goodbye” is not the end. We firmly believe, because of Jesus’ resurrection, that those whom we love we will see again in heaven one day. That’s what we celebrate during this Easter season.
There was a song that I first heard quite a few years ago, by Amy Grant and Michael W Smith entitled “Friends”. It’s a wonderful song (and not just because those two happen to be about my favorite artists, and have been for years). There is a line in the song that goes: “Though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.” It states how the parting is hard, but there is still hope and faith that the parting is not forever and that the reunion will be all the sweeter.
That night before He suffered, Jesus had to try to get his closest friends to see that they were going to be parted, but that Jesus would ultimately triumph over death and bring all of them to be with Him forever. And, he provided some additional collateral for that promise in saying that He would send the Holy Spirit to remind us of all that He had taught.
We are blessed that we have that Holy Spirit in our own hearts, speaking the words of Jesus’ love to us, reminding us that while He may not be physically here with us, His love always is with us and within us. It’s that assurance that can help us keep on in our journey with Jesus, because we know we are never alone. No matter where our path takes us, Jesus walks with us and, as the familiar “Footprints” poem reminds us, when it gets especially hard, He carries us.
Many of us have likely suffered losses during this time of the pandemic this last year or more. It’s so important to take this lesson to heart when we think of those who are no longer with us. Yes, they are not physically with us, but they are praying for us, and waiting to welcome us to heaven one day. Jesus’ Holy Spirit tells us this, and assures us that the goodbye is not the end.
We certainly pray that we are coming out of the most difficult times of the pandemic. But, no matter if the road takes us through bright sunlight or dark and stormy skies with rain and thunder and lightning, Jesus walks with us. That was the assurance He gave to His dearest friends in today’s Gospel. He gives us that same assurance that, if we strive to follow Him, we, too, will see those who have gone from us.
So let us not lose hope, but shine the light of Jesus’ love to those around us who are despairing, and show by our lives that our hope does not disappoint. That hope will ultimately bring us to that Father’s hands where we will see God as He is and we will live forever with Him, and there will be no more “goodbyes”.
Closing Prayer: Lord, thank You for continuing to draw me closer to You. Help me shine Your love and hope in the world, that I may help even one other person to know You and love You better. Forgive me for those times that I fail, and thank You for Your great mercy, kindness and faithfulness always. Amen.
Action for the Day: Say a quiet prayer for someone whom you have lost, and ask our Loving Father to hold that person close, and to grant that person life, health and peace forever with Him.