The Gospel According to St. John, Chapter 16:
5 Now I am going to the One who sent me—yet not one of you has asked, ‘Where are you going?’
6 You’re sad of heart because I tell you this.
7 Still, I must tell you the truth: it is much better for you that I go. If I fail to go, the Paraclete will never come to you, whereas if I go, I will send her to you.
8 When she comes, she will prove the world wrong about sin, about justice and about judgment.
9 About sin—in that they refuse to believe in me;
10 about justice—because I go to Abba God and you will see me no more;
11 about judgment—for the ruler of this world has been condemned.
12 I have much more to tell you, but you can’t bear to hear it now.
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all truth. She won’t speak on her own initiative; rather, she’ll speak only what she hears, and she’ll announce to you things that are yet to come.
14 In doing this, the Spirit will give glory to me, for she will take what is mine and reveal it to you.
15 Everything that Abba God has belongs to me. This is why I said that the Spirit will take what is mine and reveal it to you.
16 Within a short time you won’t see me, but soon after that you’ll see me again.”
Priests for Equality. The Inclusive Bible. Sheed & Ward.
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We value being in control. When it comes to our lives, we want to be free to choose. When it comes to God, we would rather a Divine One whom we can place in a nice and tidy box; a place where we can have it our way. If we are honest, we know our desire to exploit and manipulate. It is not that we always want to have the upper hand, but rather, we prefer life to be predictable, reasonable, and within our ability to nudge it in those directions.
No doubt, God provides who us to be responsible people who own our stuff, at least sufficiently enough to make moral choices and to live in ethical ways. Even when we fail to do so, God reaches out to us that we might heal, be healed, and find reconciliation.
Yet, it is just as clear that God is in control. When it comes to the big stuff, God is the only one that controls the ultimate outcome.
This is the message of Ascensiontide. Jesus tells the followers that he must go to what awaits him. He tells them, in fact, that his going away will be to their benefit. The way in which St. John tells the story, Jesus must leave that the Paraclete(1) may come. And, what could be better for those remain here? An advocate, helper, comforter, consoler, and defender is certainly meant to be the fulfillment of what is needed. Thus, our letting go becomes a way of finding a better help, a more fitting assistance.
It is not the "cast our burdens" kind of thing. No, it is a movement of faith. In trust we relinquish our need and want to have things on our terms. We faithfully and trustworthily know that no matter what, God has our backs. However God seems to be absent in times of challenge, the promise is that God is always, in all ways, with us.
From the ancient Greeks to the ancient Romans. From the ancient Romans to the Renaissance Erasmus. From Erasmus to Carl Jung. From Carl Jung to us. "Vocatus atque non vocatus, Deus aderit." Bidden or unbidden, God is present.
Letting go is the lesson. It is seldom easy. It comes with a lot of unknowns and consequences. Nevertheless, letting go places us in a better context.
(1). Greek, παράκλητος (paráklētos), A combination of "para" (beside/alongside) and "kalein" (to call). The word means advocate or helper. In Christianity, the term paraclete most commonly refers to the Holy Spirit.
Holy God, Holy and Almighty, Holy Immortal One,
we confess our need for you today. We need your healing and your grace.
We need hope restored. We need to be reminded that you work on behalf of those you love,
constantly, powerfully, completely.
You know where we need to be set free.
We ask for your healing and grace to cover every broken place.
Every broken relationship.
Everything that has resulted from doing that which is not your will,
and failing to do that which is your will.
Thank you that you are able to do far more than we could ever imagine.
Thank you for your Mighty Power that acts on behalf of your children.
We reach out to you, and know that you are restoring and redeeming every place of difficulty,
every battle, for your greater glory.
Thank you that you will never waste our pain and suffering.
We release to you this day every need and problem we’ve carried or tried hard to control.
We believe in your goodness to see us through.
We love you.
We need you today.
We need you always.