This coming Sunday is the 6th Sunday of Easter in Lectionary Cycle A. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” The second promise of continuing presence is Jesus’ promise of his own return (vv. 18-20). “Orphan” (orphanos) was a common metaphor to describe disciples left without their master but the use of the metaphor here has a special poignancy in the light of the familial and domestic imagery that runs throughout Jesus’ words to his own (e.g., 13:33; 14:2-3, 10-14; 15:9-11; 16:21-24, 27). Jesus’ promise that he will not leave the disciples orphaned recalls his use of the address “little children” in 13:33 and is an assurance that the intimacy of that familial relationship is not undercut by Jesus’ departure. His promise to return thus immediately counters any possible perception of Jesus’ death as his abandonment of his own. Continue reading