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Where Are You Going?
Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”
Opening Prayer: God my Father, I believe in you; help me grow that faith. Jesus, I hope in you; help me grow in that trust. Holy Spirit, I love you; stir in me the desire to love you more.
- Where Are You Going?: No one asked this question. They had seen Jesus leave once and it was pretty painful. Perhaps they thought, “If I don’t ask, maybe it won’t happen.” Grief filled their hearts. Christ recognizes that, at times, “grief fills our hearts” too. Desolation can creep in when we feel like Christ has “gone away.” Fr. Timothy Gallagher, OMV, in his book The Discernment of Spirits, breaks down St. Ignatius’s fourteen rules for discernment in an easily accessible way so that we can identify desolations or consolations and act accordingly. Understanding these principles can help us better comprehend God’s actions in our lives.
- But If I Go…: We inevitably feel a loss when Christ does not seem near. St. Teresa of Calcutta said she lived through years of spiritual desolation, feeling separated from the Lord. The path to God in one sense can be easy: repent and believe. But in daily life, many times we struggle to be in relationship with Christ and it takes real effort to persevere in prayer. It’s important to remember that, even though Jesus can feel far away at times, he never leaves us. Our spiritual desolation has a purpose, as Christ reveals in these verses. He goes away for a time so that our encounters with him can become more intimate. When we feel desolation, St. Ignatius tells us, “it is very advantageous to change ourselves intensely against the desolation itself, as by insisting more upon prayer, meditation, upon much examination, and upon extending ourselves in some suitable way of doing penance.” When we follow this advice, we can be assured that we will stay on the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14) that leads us to Christ!
- Sin, Righteousness, and Condemnation: If you just saw these three words, how easy it would be to conclude: I am a sinner, Christ is righteous, and I deserve condemnation. But let’s look again at what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would accomplish. He will convict Christians who reject Christ. He will help believers to see sin for the evil that it is. The Spirit will strike us with awe and appreciation for Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father. Who is being condemned here? The ruler of this world–Satan–and all who follow him! Truly, as Jesus said, “It’s better that I go,” because he blesses us abundantly with the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit!
Conversation with Christ: Lord, open the eyes of my heart. Help me trust that you are truly with me even when I can’t see you. Help me to fully embrace Easter joy through a new and profound faith, hope, and love for the Holy Spirit.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a good confession and celebrate Mass with a new intentionality, trusting that receiving Christ–Body, Blood, soul, and divinity–can have life-changing effects for me and those I am praying for.
For Further Reflection: “‘No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.’ Now God’s Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance, but the Spirit does not speak of himself. The Spirit who ‘has spoken through the prophets’ makes us hear the Father’s Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who ‘unveils’ Christ to us ‘will not speak on his own.’ Such properly divine self-effacement explains why ‘the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,’ while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them” (CCC 687).
Bob Cohn and his wife Jeanette live in Maryland and have spent the last thirty-five years raising seven children, working in their parish, and singing together. He is an electrical engineer with a manufacturing firm, and he loves to share his faith through speaking and writing.