5th Sunday Lent 2020


A New Perspective

Before we can understand this Gospel I think we need to understand the broader make up of John’s Gospel. Last week we heard from John 10 and this week John 14… they are really two distinct sections of John’s Gospel.

John is divided into two main parts… The Book of Signs Chapter 1-12 and the Book of Glory Chapters 13-21… last week was John 10… the book of signs… the place where Jesus is showing to the world his power… this week… John 14 the Book of Glory… in which Jesus is preparing the disciples for life without his physical presence. Much like us today… preparing us for living our lives in the Spirit of God… and then we hear these words from our Gospel today….

Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God, and have faith in me.

Those are not easy words to hear, to process, or to understand… at least not for me.
Especially in these days… I mean what is going to happen next? What if my loved one gets sick? What if I get sick? What if I lose my job? Or what if I don’t get called back? What if my business closes? What if I lose my healthcare? What about all the things that can’t happen, but were supposed to?

What about the prom dresses and dances, the football games, the baseball games, the hockey tournaments, the concerts, what about the graduations… the list seems endless… What do you mean “do not let your hearts be troubled”….whatever. Sometimes we can be tempted to think and react to Sacred Scripture as if it is an irrelevant work or book of words that makes no sense… and yet…. we find that it shares with other faith traditions the very same concepts….

All of this… all this pain… all this agony… all these lost dreams… they are all a part of a bigger picture, which we cannot see… we are living a paradigm which has been broken, shattered into a million pieces and it will never be the same…. It is a little like trying to shove a foam mattress back into its shipping
box once it has been removed and allowed to expand. When paradigms are shattered… which is what Jesus knew was going to happen to the disciples… that was the point of the Gospel today… when the paradigm shatters… we need another point of view—a different perspective…

I invite you to take a look at the picture I will share… I will only share it for 15 seconds… then will take it down… afterword I invite you to unmute and tell everyone the very first thing you saw.

Some of us saw an old lady and others saw a young lady…

It’s the same picture… it’s a different perspective…

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, have faith in me,” Jesus said… That is not always easy… because we have looked at ourselves, our world, our communities, our economy, everything in our lives… from one perspective for so long, it is nearly impossible to see it any other way…. Yet I think that is what the Gospel is inviting us to do… to see this experience… in fact all these experiences in a new and different way… God is still a God who loves us unconditionally… God still has our backs… God still is inviting us to holiness.

It just may be that God is inviting us to live our lives from a different perspective…

Remember as I have said several times before… the opposite of faith is not doubt… it is certitude… Right now I don’t think we could be more uncertain than ever before in our history…Yet what is becoming clear, are those things that are truly, absolutely important…

Like our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. So this week… since the entire Gospel of John is based on the importance of the “Word”… I am going to challenge us… to find or make small cards—make 7 or more… and write words on those cards that give you inspiration, words that give you hope, or words that bring you comfort, and randomly pick a card every day to carry with you and when struggles or worries or concerns confront you… take out the card and look at it… I did it this past week and was amazed that what I read was exactly what I needed to hear… Words help change our perspective… to see with new eyes…

Because new eyes will give us a new perspective!

Bishop Marty Shanahan