May 18 – Fifth Sunday of Easter

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“May is an absolutely beautiful time of year.  The flowers are blooming.  Grills are heating up for backyard barbecues.  It is a month of proms and graduation parties, of endings and new beginnings.  School  is winding down.  Students might cram for finals and quickly say goodbye to classmates and teachers.  Many people are looking forward to summer vacations, sports, & jobs.  It can be a stressful month trying to balance it all!  However Jesus offers us comfort in the midst of this stress and anxiety.

The most frequently repeated command in all of scripture is “Be Not Afraid.”  My pastor once told me that this message is given 365 times in the Old and New Testament, one for every day of the year!  God repeats this phrase over and over again – through the prophets, through angels, through his very Son in this week’s gospel.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled, you have faith in God, have faith in me also.” are the first words Christ utters today.  The message is timely for our modern society.  In a world that is adrift and subject to the whims of culture and  caught up in the worries of this world, Jesus gives a message of calm, a message of peace.  How fitting that we hear this line in the midst of so many stresses – parties, proms, friends & finals.

Jesus continues this message of hope stating that “in my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.”  There are many different people we can spend our time with.  We shouldn’t feel bound to stay with bad influences, to settle for a place we don’t belong.  If someone is making it harder for you to make good choices, if someone is  an occasion to sin they are not good for you!  Find someone else to be with!  Surround yourself with great people who want you to be a better person!  Today,  it is easier than ever to find positive relationships that will encourage us to press on toward the goal.  Jesus points out that our citizenship is ultimately not of this world,  we are designed for heaven!

May is a month of endings and new beginnings.  Maybe you are leaving a school and are unsure about the next step.  Jesus offers that he is “the way, the truth, and the life.”  Whatever the next step is, there will be unknowns.  A new job this summer is a venture into the unknown.  A new school next year or some new freedom this summer are both unknowns.  However, as long as we are walking with Christ, we know the way.

We can be assured of reaching our destination when we unite our dreams and aspirations with God’s plan.  Moreover, God makes the path full of joy, in service of his church.  When we use our God given gifts and talents, we build up the Church and are given a peace and joy that can only come from God.

St. Catherine of Sienna said that “all the way to heaven is heaven” based on the words of Jesus “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  I think she means when we chose to follow Christ to prepare for the next world, we will also gain a peace and docility of spirit that is so precious in this world.  In following Christ who is “the way,” we make moral choices we’re not ashamed of, we realize how petty many anxieties and stresses really are because we are not made for this world, we are made for heaven.  A life lived in accord with God’s will is not always easy, however it always brings peace and joy.

“Whoever believes in me will  do the works I do”  Often times we sell ourselves short and we forget just how great God has made us!  God has made us  “little less than God” and in the very “image and likeness of God.”  In a very real way, God expects great things from us!  God expects us to do mighty works, to be involved in our Church!  God expects us to follow His example of sacrifice.  As our former Holy Father said : “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness.”  Following God’s will is not always easy, but is always full of peace and joy.

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