John 14: 23-29
23 Jesus answered them with these words, "If anyone loves me, he will endeavor to live according to my word, and my Father will love him, we will come to him and we will establish our home in him. 24 On the other hand, the one who does not love me is detached from my word. This word that you hear is not in fact mine, but it comes from the Father who made me the messenger.
25 I told you all these things while I lived among you. 26 A Supporter, the Holy Breath that the Father will send in my name, will make you understand all these things and will remind you of all that I have told you. 27 I leave you with my peace, it is my peace that I give you. This peace that I am giving you does not resemble that which society can offer. Let your heart not be upset and do not live in fear. 28 You heard what I told you: I am going away, but I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would have been delighted to learn that I am on my way to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. 29 And I have told you all these things now, before they happen, that they may be a source of faith when they arise.
For light seekers, there is always a way out
Gospel commentary - Homily
Knowing what to look for and finding the sun
Within seconds an entire country was demolished. It only took a fracture of the earth's crust for an earthquake to devastate Haiti, creating thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of homeless. The extent of the damage was such that it seemed as if nothing was left standing. Every day we discovered dead bodies under the collapsed concrete blocks. But in the midst of this disaster, an incredible event: on find buried in the middle of this rubble of concrete a baby less than a year old still alive. A rescue worker made a breach, the light appeared under the rubble, the baby spontaneously turned to the light and, when he heard his voice, stretched out his arms. He had been without food, water and light for 4 days. Why did this baby survive? Why did he go towards the light? Before trying to answer this question, let's look at today's gospel.
To understand this extract from the Gospel according to John, it is necessary to read what precedes. Judas, not the one who betrayed Jesus, asked Jesus a question, which I would sum up like this: "Why are we able to experience your presence, when a good part of people are incapable of it?" Thinking about the history of Haiti, this question could be generalized like this: how is it that people turn to life and find it in the midst of the worst conditions, and others not? I would sum up Jesus' answer in three points. First, if for you what matters in life is love, you necessarily accept the core of my message, and by the very fact that my message inhabits your thought and your action, you know that I am present in your life. Then, your ability to understand better what I said to my disciples than the disciples themselves, is a sign that you are inhabited by the Holy Spirit, this support that I promised and that extends my presence. Finally, when you experience deep peace, peace that resists adversity, you will know that I am in your life.
One cannot comment on the gospel of this day without defining the word that I translated as "Supporter". For Jesus speaks of the "Supporter" in terms of the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in his name. The Greek word "para-klētos" literally means: "he who is called by his side", which corresponds to the Latin word "ad-vocatus", lawyer. The word refers to a function, that of supporting, defending, advising, encouraging, helping someone, interceding for him. So one will translate it by the words: lawyer, defender, intercessor, comforter, mediator, adviser, teacher or coach. In the context of today's gospel, it is a coach, or teacher, or counselor who helps us to understand deeply the message of Jesus. In other words, we are not alone when we are faced with the mystery of life that we seek to understand. Someone is by our side trying to bring some light. And in this we have the sign of his presence.
Back to our question: why in the middle of the night of the world some people turn to the sun they are waiting for and see dawning, while others continue to see nothing and mourn their fate? I know someone who has just lost his job: his employer was in financial difficulty. His wife is pregnant. Is it a disaster? The couple replied: no. Until the baby is born, we will live more soberly on a single salary, and it will be the husband who will take care of the household chores and relieve his wife of part of her responsibilities. What an opportunity! I have a colleague who received a temporary promotion that he liked very much and valued him very much. By accepting this promotion, he agreed to leave another highly visible job with exciting tasks to another. But a reorganization abruptly interrupts the promotion and brings him back to the previous level, but without the position he gave up to a replacement. He is before the total unknown. Is it a disaster? He does not find the situation easy, but at the same time says to himself: could it not be an opportunity for something new and innovative? Etty Hillesum, this young Jewish woman who died in Auschwitz in 1943, wrote: "But if we refuse to accept the difficult times which we inevitably have to face, if we do not give them shelter in our heads and in our hearts, not letting them settle and be transformed in momentums from which we could grow and draw new meaning from life; then we are not a viable generation. "
Let's go back to Haiti. Some have attributed their misfortune to God who intervenes with those he loves. A newspaper reader reacted by writing: "Good God, forget us for a moment". But if it was completely the opposite. Disasters are part of the very nature of this fragile and changing world. But there are beings like this baby who have the ability to seek the sun and find it. There are beings who do not lock themselves in their role of victim and continue to orient themselves towards life. Today's gospel tells us that Christians, at the very heart of death and the absence of Jesus, have found a new presence, richer and deeper. And why should Cité Soleil, this slum of Port-au-Prince city, not one day bear its name in its fullness as the "Sun City"?
-André Gilbert, Gatineau, January 2010