7th Sunday of Easter C

I love the Gospel of John but it can be tricky to read.  Sometimes working through its thick syntax is like trying to walk through a wall of humidity on a hot summer’s day.  I think it is the pronouns.  In a remarkable bit of lame biblical research, I counted 58 pronouns in today’s Gospel making up an astonishing 26% of all the words.  It makes you ask an important question: “What is Fr. Bob really doing with his time?”

But that said, if we can swim through this sea of programs we will reach a destination of tremendous promise and hope.  Let’s focus on a few of those pronouns, beginning with those, as when Jesus says, “Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word.”  The Gospel breaks out beyond the four walls of the upper room of the Last Supper and Jesus extends himself to those who believe in him through the teaching of the apostles, in other words, all of us. We dare to call ourselves an apostolic church because we follow on the teachings of the apostles.  But also because the Lord has given us the same glory, trust and responsibility he gave the apostles.  We are not only sharing in their word, but commissioned as the apostles were to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.  And Christ would not let us go into the world with such a mission unless he gave us all that we need any less than he would have given the eleven remaining apostles all that they need.  We have his word, his Spirit and his love.  We are an apostolic church not only by word, but by mission.

Next we can dwell on you and me as Jesus does when speaking of his relationship with the Father.  His desire is to share the incomparable love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father with all believers.  It was a love formed “before the foundation of the world.”  This is what I call Original Love.  The Son completely comprehends the love of the Father and the Father completely loves the Son.  The love of the Father and the Son is the most powerful force that has ever existed. It is too little to say that it is the most powerful force in the universe because there would be no universe without that love. Original love is what created all things through the Holy Spirit.  The love of the Trinity is imprinted like DNA on everything that exists.  And what do we know of this love?  It is pure, complete and life-giving.  And most shockingly, it is ours.

For the final pronoun is them.  “And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one.”  The awesome love of the Trinity is given in equal parts to us. Each one of us could not be more loved if we were Christ himself.  There is something perfect within us.  Oh, none of us are perfect and we certainly prove that every day, but within us is this Original Love – a love good enough for God.  It is why we celebrate Mother’s Day.  We have a sense bordering on certitude that the love of our mothers for us is not merely human.  We know it is divine, something more precious than we could imagine or dare invent.  We have all felt this perfection within us – the right word, the right touch, the right embrace have changed our world. It is those moments of salvific love that we have for another that Christ is shown in his glory.  The same love that created the mountains and seas has recreated our lives many times over.

We are built to love divinely.  Our moments of merely human love, which makes space for pride and selfishness, is not fitting for us.  If it means anything to be made in the image of God, it is precisely the promise that we might love like God.  If any diminishment of our status is allowed it is an offense to our basic human dignity.  If any of us try to understand ourselves as ugly and unlovable, it is an affront to our nature.  If we cannot recognize the perfect within us, this Original Love, then we cannot know ourselves.  We have indeed been brought to perfection.

So let us take this original love of the Father and Son and make a world anew through the Holy Spirit.  Let us dare to create as Christ did creating new horizons for all who believe.  Jesus predicted we would do even greater works than what he did so confident he was in our ability to love.  Why not believe in ourselves the way our God believes in us?  So let us create valleys of peace over mountains of division.  Let us discover oases of peace in a violent world.  And let us celebrate the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit deep within our humanity.