Not Alone

A Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Texts: 1 Peter 3:13-22; St. John 14:15-21


Grace to you and Peace from God our Heavenly Father and Christ Jesus our Risen Lord, who will not leave us abandoned. Amen.

Last week, we read Christ’s words to the disciples: Do not let your hearts be troubled.

Spoken on the night before his crucifixion, his words stand in stark contrast to the situation at hand: everything was about to get much worse.

When Philip asked how we might know the way, just hours before Pilate would sneer, “What is truth?” on the eve of his death, Christ boldly asserts, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Today, we pick up on the very heels of that narrative.

Jesus is about to depart, to ascend to the cross and descend into hell, but he leaves his disciples with this assurance: “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.”

Nothing has changed since last week: Judas hasn’t come back, hasn’t changed his mind. Peter is still shocked at the news of his coming denial. The Romans and their collaborators are still waiting, nail and spear at the ready.

But Christ’s assurance remains the same: Do not let your hearts be troubled. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I will not leave you orphaned.

But there is more; another is coming.

Just before this, he has promised us another Advocate, the Spirit of Truth, the very Spirit of the Living God.

To the disciples wondering what will happen, about to be violently separated from their Lord, Jesus makes this sure promise: they will not be alone.

And as we approach the end of these Great Fifty Days, turning towards the Ascension when the Risen Christ departed to the right hand of the Father, physically leaving the disciples again, even then, they were not alone: the Advocate came. We are only a few weeks away from the festival of Pentecost when we will hear again the story of the Spirit descending, that the new Advocate arriving to be with the Church forever.

As we read last week, the early Church still faced persecution; St. Stephen went to his martyrdom filled with the Spirit, not abandoned. Saints Peter and Paul sang hymns and let the Spirit move through them while chained in prison. Christ’s promise isn’t that we shall be free from suffering but that we shall, by the power of God, endure through it, that we will not be alone in our sorrows.

Today, more than two months into our separation, the Spirit is still with us. We are not left abandoned. And even as we long to return to the Altar, to join in the Heavenly Feast and to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord, take heart at these words: “…you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” Christ is with us, even in our isolation, even when we cannot be together at the Lord’s Table. The Holy Spirit abides with us as a holy comfort, uniting us with the Triune God and with the Church throughout the ages.

Amen.

 

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