By David Baumann
A Reading from the Gospel of John 14:15-31
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.”
In the 2006 version of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, the entry for the Martyrs of New Guinea is sparse. It provides no names and gives few details. To my amazement, one day I learned that a member of the church where I was rector was a veteran of World War II who had served in the South Pacific, and had come upon the scene of the New Guinea martyrdoms shortly after they had happened. I read his story in a copy of his memoirs he lent me. He had photographs, and wrote about conversations he had had with Christian survivors of those times.
He wrote of a priest named Vivian Redlich who was celebrating Mass in New Guinea when a messenger ran in and cried out, “Japanese soldiers are coming!” Witnesses told my parishioner that Father Redlich paused, then said quietly, “The Mass will continue.” He could have fled, but remained. He was martyred later that day.
In today’s lesson, Jesus taught, “let not your hearts be troubled.” Jesus anticipated his servant Vivian Redlich, and others in similar circumstances, when he added, “The ruler of this world is coming.” But then, “he has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me.” Jesus said this right after he taught, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Jesus taught; furthermore, he set the example. He obeyed the Father as an act of absolute, unconditional love. He also said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him.” Vivian Redlich served heroically in a time when danger and death hovered near at hand. Like him, we are people of the resurrection. In the face of threats even unto death, we have the power to stand, knowing that divine love has conquered the worst that evil can do.
David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 47 years, mainly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Springfield. He is now retired and has published nonfiction, science fiction novels, and short stories.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, River Hills, Wis.
The Diocese of Bendigo (Anglican Church of Australia)