Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter Year A
Theme: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’” (John 14:16, 18)
By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Homily for Sunday May 17 2020
Mom ripped the torn, soiled, stuffed rabbit from my tiny hands with no explanation whatever, at least that I can now remember more than 65 years later. Down two flights of back kitchen stairs toward the basement she went, my rabbit swinging by its long ears from her outstretched arm as from a hangman’s noose. Standing at the top landing, I sobbed as I heard the echo of her lifting the heavy lid of the steel trash bin, entombing my dearest friend until the neighborhood trash collector came by to cart him away forever. He was gone, and I was inconsolable.
While the details have blurred over time, I believe it was my maternal grandmother who gave me the large stuffed rabbit for Easter the year I’d just turned four. Bright yellow and taller than me when his ears stood erect, Bunny immediately became my constant companion, providing me comfort and consolation in those moments when I seemed to need more than Mom or Dad could provide. But, as I can only now appreciate, after a little kid has dragged a huge rabbit by the ears around a house non-stop for weeks on end, the fur gets soiled, seams pull apart, and the stuffing begins to leak. Apparently, that’s just what happened to Bunny, necessitating Mom’s violent kidnapping of my best friend. Now, so many years later, I understand that Bunny had actually become a health hazard, so soiled was he, and Mom was saving me from harm. But I can still remember vividly sobbing at the top of those two flights of kitchen stairs when Mom took my friend away.
I guess I knew even way back then that companionship on the long journey home is essential for survival. Sure, I had Mom, Dad, extended family, and brothers and sisters yet to be born, but I still needed something more. For a short while, Bunny was just the thing, but he wore out so quickly. Soon, human friendship replaced stuffed animals, providing far more satisfaction and durability. Eventually, I came to realize it was God who gave me these heaven-sent helpers to assist me on the journey home. While people came into and went out of my life, there always seemed to be someone right at my side, someone who was truly God’s gift.
In the gospel passage we hear today, we find the disciples perhaps as desperate as was that four-year-old sobbing at the top of the stairs. Having been told that Jesus must leave them, his followers must have been desperate in their pleas for him to remain, terrified of their future without this man who had so enlivened their hearts and minds. In response, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.’” (John 14:16, 18) And, as we know, the Holy Spirit of Jesus did come upon those disciples at Pentecost to be with them and every professing Christian down to us, heirs of Jesus’ promise.
There have still been those times when, I confess, I’ve felt not so different from that sobbing little kid who stood at the top of the stairs mourning the loss of Bunny. Changes of ministry over the years have been catalyst for too many “goodbyes” to remember, and while early on they were painful, I gradually learned to live more in the promise of God’s enduring providence than in my own feelings of abandonment. Indeed, Bunny may have been consigned to the trash bin and friends left standing in the dust of my departure for a new ministry, but the faithful God who sent me Bunny and friends to begin with stands yet beside me, assuring me that I’ll be provided with companions on the journey home.