Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 – 1 John 5:9-13 – John 17:6-19
This Homily was given at Morning Prayer on Mother's Day, May 13, 2018 by Spiritual Director Pat Vine
Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, aunts, sisters, women and girls who have lovingly mothered another person in their lives.
When I look at today’s reading from John’s Gospel, one theme really stands out for me: that of Intimate Relationship.
In this Gospel, Jesus prays that “we may be one as he and the Father are one.” And that “we may be one with Jesus and the Father.” What exactly is Jesus praying for here?
After some reflection, here are several examples of how I see one-ness happening in our lives:
- By a show of hands, how many of you have you ever had the experience when you and someone else had the same thought or spoke the same words at exactly the same time? [Wait for response] In that instance, the two of you become one.
- Look at a mother. She carries in her womb a child who is one with her body, who is totally dependent upon being fed, and who is growing inside her womb until the day comes when it’s time for the baby to be born. The unborn child is dependent upon the mother 100% so the mother needs to get the proper rest and eat well in order to nourish her baby and enable the baby to grow. The mother and the baby are one.
- St. Paul alludes to us in the Book of Ephesians that the sacrament of marriage parallels the relationship of Jesus Christ to his church—his people. The two shall become one flesh in marriage. Jesus and his people are one. Out of these unions can come new life!
- In another place, Paul says that “We are the Body of Christ,” and so we are collectively as one whole Body of St. Michael’s.
- But here’s something else to think about. You are also the Body of Christ individually. Have you ever considered that in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, you become one flesh with Jesus? As you receive into your body his Body in the form of consecrated bread, it begins to disintegrate and nourish us—his body becomes one with your body and in turn, your body becomes one with his body. As we take the wine, his blood becomes one substance with your blood and your blood becomes one with his blood. And it doesn’t stop there…his Spirit becomes one with your Spirit and yours with his. You can’t be more intimate than that!
So God calls us to an intimate relationship, a relationship, if you will, that through God’s Holy Spirit makes you and me one with the Holy Trinity, both individually and collectively. Jesus desires this and prays for this intimacy with each of us.
Now let’s look at some of the things that transpire in an intimate relationship.
First, intimacy involves vulnerability. When real love is a part of intimacy, to be vulnerable means to be open to hurt and correction. It’s important that we get to know ourselves in such a way that we can be intimate with ourselves—authentic, and honest. So in a relationship either with ourselves or another, the more open, honest and authentic we are will enable us to grow and mature spiritually and psychologically. But be warned—this is hard work.
Secondly, intimacy entails letting go and surrender to the other, or to circumstances over which we have no control, and contrary to what we would expect, it is in this surrender that we find true freedom. When we lose our life, we find it.
Thirdly, intimacy entails that two people give freedom to the other so that interdependence develops, rather than co-dependence. An example of this in my own life is that my husband John enjoys sitting outside on the deck, watching the birds that he feeds, relishing in God’s creation, and conversing with God. I leave him undisturbed during this time. I enjoy growing orchids and decorating the outdoors with hanging plants, relishing in the delicacy and beauty of the blooms in front of me. And John gives me space to be in the garden. At supper time, John and I will sit with each other, have a glass of wine, and talk about our experiences of the day—his time with God and my time with blooms, that we’ve each had on our own. It makes for wonderful and stimulating conversation and brings us closer together.
And finally, intimacy also entails that we reserve judgment about the other as we learn to listen, without jumping to conclusions. We can learn ways to communicate that give life to the other so that further communication can take place. Judgments will shut down communication much faster than those little chipmunks can run.
Jesus asked the Father to sanctify us in the truth. To sanctify means to make holy, or whole. To put the pieces of our lives together so that it becomes whole. No matter what has happened in our lives in the past, God can take it, work it for the good, heal us, and mold our lives into something beautiful. Be encouraged. God wants to be intimate with you, one with you. Will you be an answer to Jesus’ prayer?
That’s what God wants. What do you want? Is intimacy with God something you would want? Can we let God know what’s going on in our lives, how we feel about it, and ask for direction to bring about healing and wholeness? Can we trust God to give us the words when we need them? Can we trust God to nourish us and grow us through both the joyous and difficult times?
When we receive Holy Communion next Sunday on Pentecost, let us be conscious of God’s Holy Spirit within us, as we become one body and one blood with Jesus in this most intimate connection. Let us trust in this intimacy that God will lead, guide, and direct our every action. This is what Jesus prays for and this is the challenge that God’s word brings to you and me today. And don’t worry about taking risks or making mistakes. God takes them and works them for the good.
As we desire intimacy with God, we will eventually come full circle to a place of union with God, such as T.S. Eliot once allegorically stated: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time.”