Ps 138:1-3, 7c-8
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
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.”
Good News Reflection: The joy of loss
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says to his disciples, “Because I told you I’m going back to him who sent me, grief has filled your hearts.”
We’re afraid of loss. It’s very unpleasant, and yet, it’s the only way to move forward in our relationship with God. It’s a dark hallway that leads us from the past to the future, from one stage of spiritual growth to a higher level, from discipleship as a student of Jesus to apostleship as a messenger empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Loss hurts because it’s painful to be separated from what used to be. We’d rather cling to what’s familiar. We cling to the past so that we don’t have to move forward into unknown territory. We cling to our own ideas of what our lives should be like so that we won’t risk disaster in the unknowable outcomes of life’s challenges.
Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.” It is better because then he could send us his Holy Spirit. We must let go of the familiar in order to experience the greater gift that God has in mind for us next. We have to move on to move up.
Although grieving is important and necessary, we cannot afford to let it control our decisions. God should be in control. Our decisions will either hold us back or move us forward. Both directions will impact our lives and the lives of uncountable others.
Remember that God wants what’s best for us. He’s implementing a wise plan for our benefit, but not only for us. God works for the benefit of everyone. Therefore, when we refuse to travel from the old to the new, we not only prevent ourselves from discovering more of God’s awesome love, we also get in the way of God’s love for others.
The Holy Spirit gives us help and comfort when we pass through our losses, but only if we accept the help instead of cursing the changes. Then we can grieve with joy. Huh? That sounds like a contradiction! Well, look at how Paul and Silas handled their imprisonment (in today’s first reading). Surely they grieved when they were arrested, when their wounds throbbed, when their chains locked them into the darkness of the dank prison. Yet, in their trust of the Lord’s love, they were able to sing joyful praise. The result: The power of the Holy Spirit shook the very foundations of the prison and sprung open the doors.
In the Holy Spirit’s love, no matter what’s imprisoning us, we can sing hymns such as today’s responsorial Psalm: “Your right hand saves me, O Lord.” (In biblical terms, the “right hand” means the power of God.) Try it! Praise God so greatly that it shakes your world.
Jesus, how hard it is for me to let go of things I am used to! But I don’t want to lose the full life You desire for me. So I cry, Come Holy Spirit! Purify my whole being! I give You permission, Lord, to work on me according to Your will. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica