NEVER ALONE – Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C

May 22, 2022

Revised Common Lectionary
Acts 16:9-15
Psalm 67
Revelation 21:10, 22 – 22:5
John 14:23-29


Lectionary for Mass (RC)
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8 (4)
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
John 14:23-29

When speaking or writing to a friend or family member who has experienced the loss of a loved one, have you ever had difficulty finding the right words? We want to offer comfort to someone who is grieving, but many of us struggle to express sentiments that feel appropriate and meaningful.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus anticipates the grief of his disciples as he gathers with them at table on the night before his death. The Gospel writer devotes nearly five full chapters (13-17) to the Farewell Discourse, in which Jesus offers comfort, reassurance, and strength to this band of friends as he prepares to leave them and to return to the Father. This section of John’s Gospel contains some of the most beautiful, poignant, and consoling words in all of Scripture. Selected portions of these chapters are frequently heard at funerals and memorial services and may come to mind as we speak or write to friends or family members experiencing grief over loss or separation.

In the brief passage from the Farewell Discourse that we hear today, Jesus assures the disciples of his continuing presence among them after his death and resurrection. He reminds them of his words, “I am going away, and I am coming to you” (Jn 14:28). These words to the disciples are recorded in the Gospel because they are intended also for us as we live in this time following the resurrection of Jesus but before his return. Although Jesus has gone back to God, his presence remains among us and within us.

Jesus tells his disciples that if they keep his word, the “Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (14:23). Keeping the word of Jesus is not about following rules but is rather an invitation to live in his love and carry out his mission of bringing compassion to the world. As we keep his word in this way, the risen One is not simply nearby or watching from a distance but lives within us in the most intimate relationship possible.

When Jesus appeared for the first time to the gathered disciples after rising from the dead, he greeted them by saying, “Peace be with you” (20:19). Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (20:22). Today’s passage from the Farewell Discourse sheds some light on these two gifts that the risen One has bestowed on us as he sends us out just as he sent those first disciples.

The risen Christ gives us peace, but not as the world gives it (see 14:27). The world’s peace is often imposed by the powerful or enforced under hard fought terms. The peace of Christ cannot be achieved through conflict, deterrence, or treaties—it is a gift that penetrates the human heart. Even when we experience suffering and conflict—just as Jesus himself did—his gift of peace wipes out fear and allows us to remain untroubled.

Just as the risen One breathed upon the disciples, so in baptism has he breathed upon us, and thus the Spirit of Christ now lives within us. The Holy Spirit is not only our Comforter, freeing us from fear, but also our Advocate and Teacher—prodding, reminding, instructing, and guiding us. The Holy Spirit, the breath of Christ, becomes our breath too, allowing us to live fully the new life into which we have been initiated. We are empowered to bring the love of God into every aspect of our life—by our care for those closest to us, by our service in the world, by our advocacy for those on the margins.

The Spirit of the risen Christ lives within us so that we can witness boldly to his new life, knowing that we are never alone and need not be afraid.

A Hymn for Today: “Breath of God, Breath of Peace”

Trinitarian hymns have customarily been structured in the traditional order (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Mennonite hymn writer Adam M. L. Tice departs from that order in this text that addresses the Holy Spirit in the first stanza, calling upon the “breath of God” to fill and transform us—to be for us the Comforter, Advocate, and Teacher that Jesus promised. In the second and third stanzas he uses the same poetic pattern in addressing the Word (Christ) and Voice (Creator), calling to mind the assurance of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading to those who keep his word that “my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (Jn 14:23).

Breath of God, Breath of peace,
Breath of love, Breath of life,
Breath of justice, Breath of passion,
Breath creating, Breath of healing,
Breath of singing, Breath of praying,
Come upon us, come restore us,
Come inspire us, Breath of God.

Word of God, Word of peace,
Word of love, Word of life,
Word of justice, Word of passion,
Word creating, Word of healing,
Word of singing, Word of praying,
Come upon us, come restore us,
Come inspire us, Word of God.

Voice of God, Voice of peace,
Voice of love, Voice of life,
Voice of justice, Voice of passion,
Voice creating, Voice of healing,
Voice of singing, Voice of praying,
Come upon us, come restore us,
Come inspire us, Voice of God.

Text: Adam M. L. Tice, b. 1979, © 2009 GIA Publications, Inc. Used by permission under OneLicense #A-729857.
Image Credit: Symbol of Peace with the Eye of Providence, Komarom, Hungary

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.

To receive these weekly reflections by email, please send a message to and type “Lectionary” in the subject line.