One of the “silver linings” in the pandemic is that it has increased people’s mindfulness about thanking others. Reports have indicated that people are sending digital and postal service cards and letters to thank folks. That is now that things have settled out a bit. In the early days when the “sheltering in place” orders came out our fears and anxieties were too much in the forefront of our minds. My point is that we can look to our own recent experience to understand the transition from the early days of Covid-19 to days of sheltered in place and new normal. As we no longer “strain against the way things are” we find a certain degree of freedom, and then our minds wander to the essentials. And saying “thank you” is right there at the top of the list.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made us mindful of others in so many ways. Such mindfulness, empathy and love of the other is on grand display in today’s gospel. It is the wonder of the Farewell Discourse (John 14-17) that on the eve of Jesus’ own death, he pauses to speak to the disciples about their fears, anxieties, and despair. The words he offers are not simplistic offers of comfort and assurance. They are words that derive from his knowledge of the love of God for Him and his “own,” and his confidence in the triumph of that love over “the ruler of this world.” In this discourse, Jesus moves the disciples beyond the present moment in which they are living into the future that is grounded in the certitude of the resurrection and the gift of the Spirit. He offers them a vision of a future shaped by the promises of God, in which God is always present to them—through their love for one another and through the communal indwelling of God, Jesus, and the Paraclete. Over and over again through this discourse, Jesus sounds the note that the disciples will not face the future alone, that the gift God has given to them in Jesus will not terminate with the end of Jesus’ life, but will take on new shape when, under the guidance of the Paraclete, as they live out God’s commandment to love.
“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (John 15:11-12)
Our mindfulness of others is a pathway that our joy may be complete.