Sybil 2007

Gospel text

John 15: 26-27; 16: 12-15

26 When the Supporter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the breath of truth that comes from the Father, he will testify to me. 27 But you too will bear witness, because you have been with me from the very beginning ...

12 I still have many things to tell you, but you are unable to bear it yet. 13 However, when he comes with the breath of truth, he will guide you to the whole truth. Because he will not speak for himself, but as far as he can hear, he will speak and explain to you the things to come. 14 He will reveal my extraordinary quality of being, because he will receive what is mine and explain it to you. 15 Everything that belongs to the Father also belongs to me. This is why I said that he receives what is mine and will explain it to you.


Preventing air from entering, is this still a good thing?

Gospel commentary - Homily

Learning to breathe

This is the real story of Solomon and Dahiru, great friends since they were schoolboys. The first is Christian, a stocky man from a family of farmers for several generations. The other is a Muslim, a tall, slender man from a tribe who lives from the breeding of horned animals. The scene is set in Nigeria where such differences are deadly. But the communities around these two men managed to keep the peace: if a herd happened to trample a field or a herder encountered a new fence on his way to a source of water, the dispute was settled amicably.

However, over time the farming families grew, global warming dried up the land, and good land became scarcer, and the farmers increasingly found their crops ruined by the herds of cattle, while the herders felt more and more suffocated by new fences and newly planted fields. The conflict eventually broke out, the two communities went to war, raids on both sides followed one another: crops were destroyed, animals were massacred, villages were burned, people were killed. Solomon and Dahiru left their community and became refugees.

I would like to read today's Gospel in this context. Because, first of all, John places these words of Jesus at the farewell meal of Jesus, at the moment when his mission seems to have failed and triggered hatred of the Jewish authorities, and when it becomes clear that he will not be able escape from imminent death. And when John wrote this passage around the year 90, he and his community had to face the growing hostility of society, and particularly of the Jewish community, which had just excluded Christians from the synagogue. These are dark hours when you feel isolated and vulnerable.

What does Jesus say in this farewell speech as he addresses his disciples, and through his disciples, to us? You will not be left on your own, you will receive support; in fact, you can call him the Supporter, because he will act like a friend who comes to your side to support you in a difficult situation. This Supporter will be in you as an inspiring force, so that you act as I would act in the same circumstances; since I will no longer be physically by your side, it is he who will take over through your words and your actions. In fact, I should say: you will be able to act as God himself would act, because this Supporter is the very breath of God.

But beware! All of this will not happen overnight. Because becoming an adult in the faith takes time, a lot of time. You will have to live a long journey, because learning to follow the same path that was mine, responding to misunderstanding with a patient gift of oneself, responding to evil, hatred and violence with self-sacrificing love, all this is beyond your reach, unless you let yourself be guided by this Supporter and open yourself completely to his barely perceptible inner breath. But when you do, I will be glorified, that is to say that the extraordinary life that I have come to bring you will come to light, and then you will understand me perfectly, and not only me, but God himself. For there is no difference between the path I have taken, what I am, and what God is.

How to react to such a word? We can say: it is very beautiful! But that's not enough. Because today even this imperceptible breath is working on us from the inside: as St. Paul himself says, the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Breath which has been given to us (Rom 5: 5), ie every human being on earth has at the bottom of him a part of God which is the capacity of a love without limit, without condition, without restriction, without reserve. Just like with a window, you can open it to let in air, or you can keep it closed, and as tightly as possible. This is where the human drama is played out. Very often, we will not see much difference between an open window or a closed window, until the day when there is a crisis situation.

Think of a person in crisis. We will tell him: take the time to breathe; take a deep breath; expired; inspired; expire ... It is only by taking the time to open the lungs, to bring in the fresh air, and to reject the stale air that it will find its center, its being. It is the same for many of our difficult moments: either we take the time to let the pain enter, to tame it, and allow what is deeper and better in us to respond, or we tighten, we violently reject what we perceive, and let act all the resentment, hatred and violence possible. John gives a name to this response from the best of ourselves, the Holy Breath or the Supporter to continue what Jesus started.

Let's go back to Nigeria. It was only after three years that the dialogue between the two communities was able to resume through meetings that always began with prayers (one Christian, the other Muslim). The catalyst for this reconciliation, an NGO which not only offered material support for reconstruction, in particular the digging of new wells, but began to teach the art of negotiation and conflict resolution, and to liquidate fear and hate. And Solomon and Dahiru, refugees during this period because they refused to give in to hatred, were able to break out of their isolation and continue their friendship in broad daylight. How can we not see the Supporter at work?

This passage from John is used to celebrate Pentecost. It is an extraordinary celebration, because it celebrates the ability of the world to take the same path as that of Jesus. This is the hope and the future of our world.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, May 2018