“You all behave yourselves. I’m only going to be gone a few hours. Pay attention to the babysitter. When I return, I want to find the house exactly as I left it. If you love me, you will do as I say.” Words from a mother who had to leave her children for a few hours.
Jesus spoke similar words to His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” He knew that He was going to leave and wanted to give the disciples final instructions. Jesus wanted to make sure that the disciples were all on the same page regarding their personal relationship with Him. No doubt that the Lord could feel their fear. Nobody likes to change. The disciples had grown accustom to the company of Jesus. They had grown to rely on Him. In a sense, Jesus took care of His boys. However, the Lord was speaking about the “new normal”. Change was in the air and change made them uncomfortable. We all like to know what’s going to happen next. That’s why predictions, fortune tellers and the weather people are so popular. Doesn’t matter if they are correct or not, as long as they give us a clue of what’s going to happen. Jesus was much more accurate about the future. He knew that they were going to be scattered like sheep without a shepherd. The words of the Gospel are like a megaphone in a world filled with fear, with confusion, with senseless behavior. The words of Jesus apply to our reality. Have we noticed the fear among us? Is fear dominating our lives? The Lord said, “I will not leave you orphans…” We are not alone. God has not abandoned us. Regardless of how dark our reality might seem, “This too shall pass.” Besides, our perceptions are not always accurate, especially when we have to depend on information that is distorted. The media can only report what is given to them.
Some discernment, common sense, emotional management are necessary when we are under stress. Seems like much of our practical judgement has been put on hold because of fear. That’s exactly what happened to the early church. Although Jesus assured them that He would not leave them like orphans; they felt like orphans. In their panic they forgot much of what He told them. The disciples had a difficult time adjusting from Jesus doing everything for them to accepting the responsibility of being in charge. When the “buck stops with us”; when we are the evangelizers; when we are called to give witness with our lives, then there is no one to blame.
Yet, if we feel threatened, we usually want to blame someone or something. During a war the enemy is obvious. When 9-11 happened we blamed a lot of people. With a virus the enemy is within. A plan of action is not easy. The plan is being formed as we go. Therefore, we might get discouraged and lose sight of the goal. Like the disciples we must accept responsibility for the Gospel, which cannot be watered down, in spite of the circumstances. “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live, and you will live. I am in you and you are in me”. There is no “Superhero” that’s going to come and save the day. Jesus Christ is the only person we need. He has empowered us to help ourselves and to help each other. Social distancing would be better named physical distancing. We’re not supposed to stop being social, to stop caring, stop calling each other. Remembering who we are is more important than ever. No pushing, no fighting, no holding grudges. Doing without some of the freedoms we took for granted has taken a toll. Being sheltered at home or rooming around town, we are the same. We are the embodiment of Christ. He’s inside of us and we are inside of Him. Means we have to behave accordingly, all the time. Christianity will never be in fashion. The world is not ready, but very much in need.
Our challenge is to love and not be afraid. Jesus is speaking to us, “I am with you always.”