You know how it is. Someone begins a conversation with you by saying, “Now…. I don’t want you to worry.” I’m sorry, but they are only half way through the sentence and I am already worrying. They haven’t even gotten to the content, the topic, or any information and I am already asking “why, what, when, how, who.” I know they don’t want me to worry, but, sorry, that train has already left the station.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Seriously? It was only six verses ago, just prior to the opening of today’s gospel when Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer…where I go you cannot come.” (John 13:33) The disciples’ hearts are troubled and Jesus’ words of comfort are not hitting their intended mark.
When Jesus says, “Where I am going you know the way,” Thomas replies quite bluntly, “Master, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” And when Jesus suggests that he is the way and that anyone who knows him will know the Father, Philip also reaches his limit and makes a request that is even more audacious – asking what no pious Jew would dare ask, to see God: “show us the Father.”
The disciples are not asking questions about what Jesus is saying. They are asking the “where, how, why, when” questions. But these questions are ones that theologians will answer with dissertations on atonement theology, the divine plan and will of the Father, and even more words that are cold comfort at best. In response, Jesus only answers the “who” question. Again, and again, he tells the disciples, “you know me, you know my works, you know me beyond what words can offer.”
He is the one who loves them, and in turn, the one who shows the Father’s love for them. He is the one they know. He is the one they trust. He is the one who gives them what they need. He is the one who will hold them close when all the answers fail and fall short. He is the one who will always be there; always and truly present in their lives. Always present for them in a way they can truly receive.
Seems to me this is the perfect gospel for Mother’s Day. I can recount the “where, how, and when” my mother made so many sacrifices for me. All the mornings she arose at 5:00 am to take us all to swim practice, napping in the car while we ground away the laps for two hours, then came home to make us breakfast. That is just one example of many. Why would she do all that? The answer is simple and amazingly complex – because she loved me. Mom is the answer to the “who” questions of love that we all will ask.
She is the one who loved me, the incorrigible me, the moody me, and all the me’s that were less than a son should be. She is the one who always seems to know what to give. She was the one who held me close when all the answers failed and fell short. She is the one who showed me the depths of love. She was the one always there, ever and truly present.
Really present – beyond space and time, without limits.
Can I measure it like a science project? No, but such love is no less real. Is it spiritual? Yes, but it is no less concrete. Is it in the here and now? Yes, but it transcends time.
…perhaps you are wondering about whom I am speaking? Is it my mom? Yes. It is Jesus? Yes. The ones who are the real presence of love in my life.
One gave me birth to this life. By the other I was born again to the newness of life.
One showed me love, how to give and receive love. The other is the source, destination, and the pathway of all Love in our days and nights.
One pointed for me the way in this life. The other is the Way to a holy life now and eternal life to come.
One had faith in me, ever opening her arms to embrace me. The other had faith in us all, that arms wide open on the Cross, we would one day come to that divine embrace.
One was the witness to love. One is the Real Presence of Love.
Spend time thinking about the love of your mother in your life. The sacrifices, the constancy, its unconditional nature – while it will always be part mystery, it is always as real as its gets. What’s the old expression? “A son grows up and takes a wife, but a mother is a mother, the rest of her life.” We grow up and move away. A mom’s love never moves away. If we live long enough, our mothers pass away, but their love never passes away. In time, we are not too concerned with the “when, why, where, or how” – there is only the “who.”
And if this is a mom’s love, how much more is the love of Christ? And when we understand that “who” was always the only question that mattered, we know what Jesus was trying to tell his disciples.
We are only human. Our hearts will be troubled from time to time and we will ask the “when, why, where, how” questions. We are only human.
But we are also partakers of the divine.
We just need to able to answer the “who” question.
For me, the answer is Jesus the Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The one who is Love.
And my heart is troubled no more.