And this is how we can live in perfect love with one another and bring others into it. With the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us all of the things that we need to know until the end of days.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Today’s Gospel and this Sunday, in fact, marks a transition. It is the transition of the time when Jesus is with us, with his disciples after his resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Coming of the Helper.
This Thursday, we mark the Ascension – 40 days after Easter, the moment that Jesus returns to His Father. And so in our Gospel today, he is preparing his disciples and his friends for his leaving. He starts with a reminder, a summary of his teaching, the teaching that we have been hearing and studying over the last 40 days, that he loves us as his Father loves Him, and that we must love one another in the same way.
He reminds us that the evidence of perfect love is perfect obedience. He is setting us up for success. He knows that we have to live on without Him, physically with us. And he knows how hard it can be to live in that perfect love and in that perfect obedience. And so he tells us and reminds us of the Helper who is to come – the Holy Spirit.
And this is how we can live in perfect love with one another and bring others into it. With the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us all of the things that we need to know until the end of days. And we must always strive to learn more about our faith, about Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We must strive if we are to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Holy Spirit continuously takes us back to Jesus, takes us back to those things that he taught us whilst he was here on Earth. We strive to a deeper meaning of the truth that Jesus gave us, and the Holy Spirit will save us from our own arrogance and from our own egos – if we let it – it takes us back to Jesus, his teachings and his actions.
As we strive to learn more about our relationship with Jesus, we must do it in and with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we risk going off on our own journeys, feeding ourselves and not our faith.
This is an important thing in what I just said. I said if we let it, if we let the Holy Spirit teach us and speak to us. And it’s important because we can become deaf to the Holy Spirit if we dismiss that small voice in our minds too often.
“Oh no, not that teaching. That’s too hard. I can’t do that.”
“Oh no, not that teaching. My friends wouldn’t like that teaching.”
When we are tempted to live outside of the perfect obedience that Jesus gave us. When we are on the brink of walking a wrong path, there will be somewhere in us a little saying of Jesus, a prod, a memory from Sunday school, a picture of Jesus calling us back to the truth of his love and that small voice, that small prod is the work of the Holy spirit.
We must be open to that, open to the Holy spirit, the helper that God sends us.
Finally, Jesus tells us of his parting gift, the gift that helps us be open to the Holy spirit, the gift that helps us to bring others into that relationship.
And it is the gift of his peace.
I preached during the week when this reading came up in the weekday lectionry on Jesus’ peace and how I love to teach it in primary schools Because I get all of the children, especially in Church schools, to turn to one another and say, peace be with you.
Do that for me now. Turn to one another and say to your neighbour, peace be with you. That feels nice, doesn’t it? Does that feel nice?
And then I get the children to turn to one another and say, I love you. And the children go no no no! And they turn to one another and they pull a face turn to your neighbour and say, I love you.
It’s harder, isn’t it?
It’s harder. But that is the gift of Jesus peace. It is the gift of being able to love one another. As God the father loved Jesus, we must be able to say that. We must be able to share that.
And so when the peace is shared from the altar during the liturgy of the Eucharist, that is what you are being given to take out into the world. That peace and that love. Because in that peace and that love, you open people’s hearts to the Holy spirit. Jesus peace is not simply the absence of conflict, but it is a desire, a wish, a prayer of all that is good in your life. It’s a peace that cannot be taken from you.
It’s a peace that you are commanded, not politely requested, but commanded to share, to share in the power and the guidance of the Holy spirit. It is a peace that will set you on the right path to a deeper understanding of your own faith with Jesus Christ. It is a peace that will erase ego. It is a peace that will bring comfort in loss. It is a peace that will ultimately take you home to your father just as Jesus returns to his on Thursday.
Prepare for the coming of the Holy spirit. Prepare for Pentecost. Open yourselves to its work in your life and share the peace of Jesus, the peace that Jesus gave you. The peace that Jesus commands you to share. Amen.