Worship At Home
Small Group Reflection of 05-17-20
In these days of social distancing we have endeavored to provide a Corpus Christi online worship experience. The Worship At Home web page has been our attempt to provide that. One of the ways our community has used this resource has been to gather virtually in real time using video conferencing software like FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, and Zoom. In an effort to hold onto our deep liturgical roots, one virtual group has gone to the point of having rotating presiders, lectors, and even homilists. The reflections provided by the members of this group have often been very inspiring. In an effort to share these reflections with the larger community several of them have been collected and published here on the CC website.
Reflection from 05-17-20, provided by Kathy DiGiorno.
The Sixth Sunday of Easter
In the upper room, after the last supper and the foot washing, Jesus summarizes his teachings one last time for his disciples. He reassures them that they will not be left alone, without resources, and that he will not leave them orphans. As Jesus goes on and on in John’s gospel, the disciples become more anxious and perplexed. Think how scared they must have been. They had given up everything for this Teacher and now he was leaving them! What were they supposed to do? When, exactly, would he come back?
Scripture scholars believe John wrote this gospel 90 – 100 years after Jesus’ death. The Christian community no longer included people who had known Jesus directly. The little band of John’s community, an embattled and uncertain church, must have been feeling like it had been a long time since Jesus promised to return. The burden of carrying on his teachings must have started to grow heavy.
Fast forward to today. We are still waiting for Jesus to return. Like John’s Christian community, it feels like a long time. In this time of great uncertainty, of forced isolation and distance from community, when we are physically separated from the sacraments, we wonder what will happen to us. How will we ever get to the kingdom of God?
Back to John’s Gospel. What does Jesus tell the disciples to do? Keep his commandments. And what are Jesus’s commandments? Love. To love one another and to love our neighbor. And Jesus tells them about the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells the disciples that he will be gone, but that God will still be with them, through the Holy Spirit.
We have now been waiting for Jesus to return for thousands of years. But the absence of Jesus does not mean the absence of God in our lives. God is always with us through the Holy Spirit. We need to think through the quite radical nature of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit is not just ‘with us’ – he is ‘in us’: the Holy Spirit actually, physically dwells within us. As Jesus says here in verse 17: “You know the Spirit, because the Spirit abides with you, and will be in you.” (note—gender). The Holy Spirit is God physically within us and if God dwells within us, then we will notice a change in our lives.
Dr. Steve Griffiths characterized it this way: “The Holy Spirit is God-present-with-us, in the here and now, transforming us and growing us so that we can be a blessing to others and to the world. Someone once described the Holy Spirit as ‘the Present Tense of God’: not the God of history, not the God of the future, but the God of the here and now, active in the world and active in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us experience God on a day-to-day basis, the one who gives us faith, the one who sustains us, the one who keeps us in the presence of God every moment of every day.”
The spirit also gives us hope. One of the phrases that has been running through my head during these difficult days is “Confident Hope.” From Romans 11:12 “Rejoice in our confident hope” (Paul exhorting the Romans to use their spiritual gifts); from Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called;” from Colossians 1:5, where Paul identifies the Colossians’ “confident hope of what God has reserved for them in heaven” as the source of their faith and their love for all people; and finally from Romans chapter 15: “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The last time I spoke to the confirmation students I talked about hope, which I believe to be one of the greatest fruits of the spirit. A 2016 article titled “Hope, the forgotten virtue of our time” describes hope: “Hope is not something we achieve through hard work, grit and determination. Hope is inescapably a gift. Hope is the gift God bestows on us so that we can turn our lives to God, seek God, grow in the love and goodness of God.” “Hope empowers us to live differently. . . . To live in hope is to want nothing less for ourselves that God wants for us . . . Hope frees us from the intolerable burden of thinking that so much depends on us that we become oblivious to the blessings around us, and especially how each day God calls us out of ourselves in order to draw others more fully to life through our kindness and goodness.”
We are not alone. We are, always, filled with the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, infusing us with hope.