May 17: A Message from Fr. Jim on the 6th Sunday of Easter
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.
Thank God for Zoom. Two months ago, Zoom to me was a locally produced PBS program for kids from the 1970s that those of you in my generation might remember. Lately it has been a lifeline for me as it has for many of you. Each Sunday via Zoom, I join our R.C.I.A. group for a time of prayer and reflection. It allows our staff to “be together” to plan, to discuss and to provide mutual support. I even had my first spiritual direction session with my wise and holy Jesuit spiritual director via Zoom. This and other platforms have allowed us to connect at a time of isolation and social distancing. But no one has any illusion that it is anything more than second best. We are longing to be present to each other really and not just virtually. This time of isolation leaves many of us yearning for the way things were.
What must it have been like actually to know Jesus in the flesh? His disciples walked with him, ate with him, listened to him, were embraced by him. And they weren’t at all happy that Jesus was going to be leaving them. They did not want to give up relating to Him in a way that had become familiar and comfortable. How would Jesus be with them, as he promised, if they would no longer be physically in his presence? To speak anachronistically, did the disciples fear that they would be deprived of Jesus’ physical presence and be relegated to connecting with him over Zoom?
And yet, as it turned out, the disciples’ fears were unfounded. They would come to know intimacy with Jesus as the one who would make his dwelling within them and not as someone external to themselves. And Jesus invites us to know him in just this way. During this time of isolation, we continue to have unlimited access to Him, ever present to us. Our reading this week from 1 Peter reminds us “always (to be) ready to give an explanation for anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1Peter 3:15). Lord Jesus, you are the reason for our hope. In this time of distress, may we come to know you ever more intimately as you dwell within us. Be our strength, our peace and our hope.
In this age of virtual connection, how blessed are we that Jesus is always with us… really!
Yours in Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord,