Date: Sunday, May 22, 2022
My grand nephew Owen and his classmates were on top of their school in Clarence on Tuesday as they watched Air Force One flying over bringing the President of the United States to address and comfort a neighborhood, a community in deep pain, sorrow, and anger. You are not alone in your grief. Hatred has no home here.
At the last supper in the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Jesus then “gives his word” to his disciples and says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Jesus wants to make it clear when he goes to prepare a place for them with the Father, he is not abandoning them, but coming back to take them to himself. “Where I am you also may be.” When the disciples “keep his word” the Father and Jesus will come and dwell with them in mutual divine love.
Jesus promises that the Father will send “the Advocate,” the Holy Spirit, in my name who “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to the presence and teaching of Jesus and guides us to make the justice and mercy of the Gospel a reality in our own time and place.
“Shalom” is the farewell gift of Jesus. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” Christ’s gift of peace is not the absence of trouble or hostility in the world but the inner peace of pursuing everything which makes for the highest good. The disciples will come to understand that the ways of the world are often bracing and cruel and that it is necessary for them, for us, to undergo many hardships. And yet, there is a space for calm and comfort within each hardship. It is the peace Christ promised, a peace beyond suffering.
Our 2nd reading contains verses from the Book of Revelation. It was written during a time of suffering and persecution after the destruction of the Temple and City of Jerusalem by the Roman army. John “the seer” is in exile, isolated on the Island of Patmos. An angel of God takes John in spirit to a great, high mountain and shows him the holy city of Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. This vision surely instills hope within churches, believing communities, who are facing persecution and mourning the deaths of members martyred for their faith. Along with the vision, John hears the voice of the One who sits on the throne. “Behold, God’s dwelling is with humans. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away…Behold I make all things new.”
Words alone are insufficient. At the last supper, Jesus takes off his outer garment, puts on an apron, takes a towel, jug of water and basin, and washes the feet of his disciples. Jesus gives them/us an example. Words and actions must align together as we express our solidarity like the Buffalo Bills serving up lunch on Jefferson Avenues near the desecrated TOPS supermarket. Next week in the bulletin, Bishop Mike Fisher is offering suggestions to us to sustain the mission of the church in East Buffalo by supporting Catholic Charities, the Response to Love Center and the Saint Teresa Home. We also have a special parish bond with St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy. Norm and Linda Paolini’s daughter was working as a pharmacist at the TOPS and her head was grazed by a bullet. In the bulletin this weekend, there is an opportunity to help legal immigrant families at our Lady of Hope Church on the westside of Buffalo.
Our response to this tragedy, must be one of prayer, of “keeping the word of Jesus” by following his example of sacrificial love.