A Word about the Readings
by Father Gethin
(The readings may be found here)
As we make our way through the gracious and peaceful season of Eastertide, our Sunday readings take care not only to make plain the Easter Proclamation, ‘Alleluia, Christ is Risen!’, but also to begin to prepare our hearts and minds for the next stage in the story. Jesus Himself makes the same careful preparations with the disciples, beginning at the last supper, and so our Gospels for the next three Sundays are all taken from Christ’s Maundy Thursday discourse in John. “A little while and ye shall not see me,” He told them—the powers of darkness would have their day—but do not fear, I will see you again, and fulfill your joy. But even with His encouragement, the hour of His suffering was more than they could bear; and yet, His teaching was not in vain, either. There, on the verge of His Passion, Christ begins to open the way to His friends, which they must come to know and follow, if they would remain in His company. That way would often mean martyrdom—though not necessarily. What it would always mean was a transformation of perspective, and a new clarity of intention and purpose. ‘I go to the Father.’ This is the heart of the story. What is done, is done according to the Father’s good will, and by way of obedience to His love. In this way, Christ’s very person is the restoration of all things to their God-given purpose, He is the ‘first-fruits of a new creation’, as St. Paul would say. As the express image and likeness of the Father, He gathers all things to Himself, and according to the grace and truth of the Father, all things are either restored to His Kingdom, or cast into darkness. The creation must be restored to its Source. Christ is utterly clear on this point—I come, not to do my own will, but the will of Him Who sent me. Only under the authority of the Father’s rule is there any life, or joy, or peace. That is why Christ is so certain of the joy that will be there for the disciples, because He is clear of His own perseverance in serving the Father. Redemption, in other words, is a matter of our return to our Maker, to be free to know Him as ‘Our Father.’ Christ is our Lord and Judge, because He is the fulfillment of the Father’s Authority: it is the Father’s will for us to be with Him, and therefore, Christ opens the gates of death through His entering there, and at the cost of His own life. All this is to say, our focus, even here in Eastertide as we rejoice in Christ’s Risen presence, is yet meant to rest on our Creator, and our joy and thanksgiving must ascend—as Christ also must ascend—to their proper place, the heavenly seat of our loving Father.