Lectio Divina: 6th Sunday of Easter (C)
The Holy Spirit will help us
understand Jesus’ words
1. Opening prayer
Shaddai, God of the mountain,
You who make of our fragile life
the rock of Your dwelling place,
lead our mind
to strike the rock of the desert,
so that water may gush to quench our thirst.
May the poverty of our feelings
cover us as with a mantle in the darkness of the night
and may it open our heart to hear the echo of silence
until the dawn,
wrapping us with the light of the new morning,
may bring us,
with the spent embers of the fire of the shepherds of the Absolute
who have kept vigil for us close to the divine Master,
the flavor of the holy memory.
a) The text:
Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe."
b) A moment of silence:
Let us allow the voice of the Word to resonate within us.
a) Some questions:
- “And we will come to Him and make our home with Him”: looking in our interior camp, will we find there the tent of the shekinah (presence) of God?
- “He who does not love Me does not keep My words: Are the words of Christ empty words for us because of our lack of love? Or could we say that we observe them as a guide on our journey?
- “The Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” Jesus returns to the Father, but everything which He has said and done remains with us. When will we be able to remember the marvels which divine grace has accomplished in us? Do we receive or accept the voice of the Spirit who suggests in our interior the meaning of all that has taken place, all that has happened?
- “My peace I give to you” The peace of Christ is His resurrection: When will we be able in our life to abandon the anxiety and the mania of doing, which draws us away from the sources of being? God of peace, when will we live solely from you, peace of our waiting?
- “I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe”: Before it takes place... Jesus likes to explain to us beforehand what is going to happen, so that the events do not take us by surprise, unprepared. But, are we ready to read the signs of our events with the words heard from Him?
b) Key for the reading:
To make our home, Heaven does not have a better place than a human heart which is in love. Because a dilated heart extends the boundaries and all barriers of time and space disappear. To live in love is equal to live in Heaven, to live in Him who is love, and eternal love.
v. 23. Jesus answered him: If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. In the origin of every spiritual experience there is always a movement forward. Take a small step, then everything moves harmoniously. The step to be taken is only one: If a man loves Me. Is it really possible to love God? How is it seen that His face is no longer among the people? To love: What does it really mean? In general, to love for us means to wish well to one another, to be together, to make choices to construct a future, to give oneself... to love Jesus is not the same thing. To love Him means to do as He did, not to draw back in the face of pain, of death; to consciously walk into pain and suffering if need be for the sake of another; and love as He did takes us very far... and it is in this love that the word becomes daily bread to eat and life becomes Heaven because of the Father’s presence.
vv. 24-25. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. If there is no love, the consequences are disastrous. The words of Jesus can be observed only if there is love in the heart; otherwise they remain absurd proposals. Those words are not the words of a man. They come from the Father’s heart who proposes to each one of us to be like Him. In life it is not so much a question of doing things, even if they are very good. It is necessary to be human, to be sons and daughters, to be images similar to the One who never ceases to give Himself completely.
vv. 25-26. These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. To remember is an action of the Spirit; when in our days the past is seen as something lost forever and the future is there as something threatening to take away our joy today, only the divine Breath in you can lead you to remember it. To remember what has been said, every word coming from God’s mouth for you, and forgotten because time has gone by.
v. 27. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. The peace of Christ for us is not absence of conflicts, serenity of life, health... but the plenitude of every good, absence of anxiety in the face of what is going to happen. The Lord does not assure us well-being, but the fullness of son-ship in a loving adherence to His plans which are good for us. We will possess peace, when we will have learned to trust in that which the Father chooses for us.
v. 28. You heard Me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you’. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. We come back to the question of love. If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced. But what is the meaning of this statement pronounced by the Master? We could complete the phrase and say: If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father... but since you think of yourselves, you are sad because I am leaving, going away. The love of the disciples is an egoistic love. They do not love Jesus because they do not think of Him, they think of themselves. Then, the love which Jesus asks is this love: a love capable of rejoicing because the other will be happy! It is a love capable of not thinking of self as the center of the universe, but as a place in which one feels open to give and to be able to receive: not in exchange, but as the “effect” of the gift received.
v. 29. I have told you before it takes place, so when it does take place, you may believe. Jesus instructs His own because He knows that they will remain confused and will be slow in understanding. His words do not vanish. They remain as a presence in the world, treasures of understanding in faith: an encounter with the Absolute who is always and for always in favor of man.
Love: a magic and ancient word as old as the world, a familiar word which is born in the horizon of every human being in the moment in which he or she is called into existence. A word written in his human fibers as origin and end, as an instrument of peace, as bread and gift, as himself, as others, as God. A word entrusted to history through our history of every day. Love, a pact which has always had one name alone: humanity. Yes, because love coincides with humanity: love is the air that we breathe, love is the food which is given to us, love is the rest to which we entrusts ourselves, love is the bond of union which makes of us a land of encounter. That love with which God has seen in His creation and has given: “It is something very good”. God has not taken back the commitment taken when man made of himself a rejection more than a gift, a slap more than a caress, a stone thrown more than a silent tear. He has loved even more with the eyes and the heart of the Son, up to the end. This man who became a burning torch of sin, the Father has redeemed Him, again and solely out of love, in the Fire of the Spirit.
The steps of a man are from the Lord,
and He establishes him in whose way He delights;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord is the stay of his hand.
I have been young, and now am old;
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging bread.
He is ever giving liberally and lending,
and His children become a blessing.
Depart from evil, and do good;
so shall you abide for ever.
For the Lord loves justice;
He will not forsake His saints.
The righteous shall be preserved for ever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall possess the land,
and dwell upon it for ever.
The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.
I see you, Lord, dwelling in my days through Your word which accompanies me in my more intense moments, when my love for You becomes courageous, audacious and I do not give up in the face of what I feel that does not belong to me. That Spirit which is like the wind: blows where it wants and His voice is not heard, that Spirit has become space in me, and now I can tell You that He is like a dear fried with whom to remember. To go back to remember the words said, to the lived events, to the presence perceived while on the way, does good to the heart. I feel profoundly this indwelling every time that, in silence, one of Your phrases comes to mind, one of Your invitations, one of Your words of compassion, Your silence. The nights of Your prayer allow me to pray to the Father and to find peace. Lord, tenderness concealed in the folds of my gestures, grant me to treasure all that You are a scroll which is explained, in which it is easy to understand the meaning of my existence. May my words be the dwelling place of Your words, may my hunger be Your dwelling, bread of life, may my pain be the empty tomb and the folded shroud so that everything that You want may be accomplished, up to the last breath. I love You, Lord, my rock.