I’ve joked a bunch of times that the Gospel of John is my least favorite of the 4 Gospels. John writes very differently from Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John, we don’t get to hear any of Jesus’ parables or even some of the more historical aspects of His life story. Instead, we often hear these long teachings, speeches of Jesus that some feel are poetic. I think they sound Dr. Seuss-like.. So initially this week, I concede I wasn’t feeling anything with this Gospel reading. Usually something jumps off the page, or an idea pops into my head that slowly evolves and takes shape. But I had nothing – to the point where I was looking at the first and second readings for a different idea.
Then there was our Senior send off last Sunday. Not to get the graduates all emotional – yeah it’s hard for me – it’s hard for us – to prepare for you guys to graduate and to leave us. It’s not a shock or surprise that you are graduating (well maybe for some it is… ) I mean, in campus ministry, we know that all of you guys are here for a limited time… But even though we know that, we get used to you all being here… We get to know you at a pretty important time in your lives and get to see you change a lot in that short period… so we get to like you – get to love you all a lot. And just talking with some of you seniors, we know you’re feeling a lot of the same things… yeah there’s the excitement and joy about graduation and new opportunities on the horizon… but at the same time, a lot of you guys have talked about how nervous, afraid, unsure you are of what’s next (even if you have a job or something lined up next) And part of that comes from knowing that you’ve got these next big steps to take and that you’re taking them away from MSU, away from this Newman Catholic Community
That’s more than just a nice sentiment or thought. Because this whole Gospel comes from Jesus speaking to his disciples in the Upper Room on that first Holy Thursday at the Last Supper. Jesus had already washed the disciples’ feet – called out Judas and seen him leave to betray Him. He was alone with them and His thoughts about what was about to unfold: His arrest, his unjust trial, brutal torture and crucifixion. He who could see the betrayer’s heart, also sees the hearts of those who remain – and He is also able to look out into history, into this room and this very night to see our hearts as well. In spite of the agony that awaits Him, Love – true love – makes it impossible for someone to remain self-focused. He is not thinking about himself at that hour or what faces Him – but us – each and every one of us who He is pouring out His life for.
The reason for this is simple. Ultimately , life is about this one journey we’re all on. Which is why Jesus wants us to remember we’re destined to be with Him forever. That’s why I could say goodbye to my friend Pat, recognizing that this was nothing more than a temporary goodbye… She had entrusted herself to Jesus in this life, and strove hard to love Jesus and keep his commands during her life. The tears her family and friends shared were because they could recognize and appreciate that in a new way as they celebrated her life. They could rejoice at the good fruit she produced by being rooted in Christ.