Go to that room were the Spirit can fill your heart with Peace and Hope.
By: Bernadette-Moore Gibson
Today’s Gospel of John, chapter 14, begins where Jesus tells the disciples, “Do not be troubled.” Jesus is giving his disciples this advice because he knows they will miss him deeply. They had been living, traveling, and doing ministry together up close and personal for three years. Jesus had been their constant teacher. What would they now do without his guidance, forgiveness, and power? How would they face the future without him? How could they not be troubled? A few weeks ago, I watched the movie “UP” with my nieces and nephews. I’ve seen that movie many times before and am always amazed at how what looks like an animated children’s movie is actually a very touching adult story about life’s joys and sorrows, disappointments and victories. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that it’s about Carl, who loved Ellie his whole life. Now that he is mourning her death, Carl is faced with the dilemma of how to get on in his last years without Ellie by his side. Carl can remain a grouchy, grieving, negative old man, or he can become a nurturing, adventuresome senior citizen. Fortunately, through the course of the movie, Carl undergoes a positive transition. He obeys Ellie’s dream to take their house to Paradise Falls. He allows her spirit of adventure to comfort and guide him. And, finally, Carl realizes that there is something that goes beyond Ellie’s dream- -something greater that he needs to be a part of. That’s when Carl turns from being a disappointed and troubled soul into a happy and fulfilled human being, enjoying his new relationship with his young friend Russell. Transitions are tricky. Loss and grief are painful. When we have shared together deeply, we have a lot to miss. But, if we trust in the Holy Spirit, and if we believe that God is greater than death, our transitions might be a lot less troubled. Today’s Gospel message is one about peace. Where do we find peace when nothing goes our way? Where do you find peace when everything we have worked for, longed for, desired, falls apart at the seams? What happens when it seems that everyone is tugging at us and pulling at us? Like the Disciples, for those of us who know the Lord, the invitation for us is to hear God’s voice. The invitation is to go within and listen for God working in our lives. I am talking about the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us at our baptism and in Confirmation. There is a spot within us, we usually say, “within our hearts,” where there is a spot of peace in the whirl wind we call life. We are invited to that spot of peace within, by prayer. Prayer, in this instance is a pause in the day where we are reminded that this reality in which we live is not the true and ultimate reality. Jesus tells us in John 14 that whoever loves him will receive a room within them that is given by the Father in heaven. Jesus tells us that in his Father’s house there are many rooms and one of them is for us. John’s Gospel has a habit of being very sacramental: what we experience here has a gracefilled correlation in heaven. We receive that grace through the connection between the two. The room within us is connected to the room in heaven. We can enter into the peaceful spot within us and be taken to the room in heaven where there is peace. With Pentecost approaching, I pause, take a deep breath and feel myself breathing in the Holy Spirit and I find peace in a spot within. When I think of the peace that Jesus leaves us, the peace that Jesus gives us, I think it cannot be like the world gives. The peace we are given does not have to react to crazy people, who seem to be all around us. The peace left to us by Jesus and given to us by Jesus is not like the world of unreasonable and illogical conclusions that forget the goal of our entire enterprise: to love one another. The peace left to us by Jesus teaches us to be inclusive of women, children, the poor, the sick, and anyone else who is different or outcast. The peace of Jesus reminds us as faithful witnesses that death is never the end – that God always has the power to raise up new, and even better, opportunities for goodness and hope. The peace Jesus left to us, and Jesus gives to us absorbs what the world has to give and transforms it as we are transformed into people who live in the world but are not from it. So, I invite you to stop what you are doing today. Stop thinking about the illogical things that happen. Stop thinking about whatever it is that causes you to be troubled, timid with fear, and filled with frustration and anxiety and go to that room were the Spirit can begin to fill your heart with Peace and Hope.