We are waiting, somewhat impatiently, to bolt from this lockdown. The currency of worldly life is money. It is a practical truth that if economies are not revived there will be more forms of suffering. The currency of our spiritual life is love. It is the ideal truth. Throughout time, humanity struggled to strike a balance between two truths. There is always the need to address immediate concerns, both for progress and to alleviate suffering. So, often because of this immediacy the currency of money comes out the stronger.
We are promised a new norm when the lockdown is lifted. It will be very pronounced because many changes are physical and immediate. Social distancing, mask-wearing and temperature checks will remind us daily that our norms changed. Yet, as a person this will not be the first time we step into a new norm, but maybe not as consciously as this. As an individual person, we ‘progressed’ as the world progresses. As a person we have always entered new norms afforded by both money and love, changes pronounced by our changed lifestyles and values.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus spoke to his disciples about his leaving them but promised that the Father “will give you another Advocate to be with you forever, that Spirit of truth”. We will have the Holy Spirit as a constant presence. When Christ ascended, Christ unseen became the new norm for the disciples.
The only thing constant down the centuries in an ever-changing world is the love of God. Money has changed its value throughout time, but this love has never. The Love of God remains a constant norm.
So, as we enter this new norm post-lockdown, today’s message reassures us that the Advocate enters it with us. This is not about resisting change but to realize that in every change something does not change; in every new norm there exist a constant old norm. The faithful are called to be disciples. Disciples are gathered to offer this vital balance to humanity. With all the necessary appeal of money, disciples are still to barter with love.
These are extraordinary times with the winds of change howling. Our priest also says, “these are graced times”. Graced because we can see the Advocate actively working amidst the chaos. This is an opportune time to offer compassion, hope, faith and peace to the new world out there. A time to bring the constant old norm to fore.
Evangelization must go out of the classroom. Witnessing must get out of the church (building). Prayer expressed in rituals must also now expressed itself in acts. Never more urgent than now, but our faith life must be relevant to daily life. Otherwise it is meaningless. We have all been educated in the academic of our Christian religion. In this new norm, teaching and passing on our faith can effectively happen only through tangible experiences. The Advocate await us to become channels of these experiences. It is time for disciples to be more pastoral.
This is not to say the academic aspect of our faith is not important. It will always be an important foundation. But in a world that now allow us virtual realities, the Church is challenged to build upon this foundation to provide a real-time experience of the Advocate. It is a time of grace, to constantly make the unseen seen and to actively witness by actively acting.
And this is how we gently remain the constant norm in every new norm. “Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience, so that those who slander you when you are living a good life in Christ may be proved wrong in the accusations that they bring.” (Second Reading)
The difference between the two currencies is that money does not take everyone along. But love pick up those who are left behind. This ideal truth must exist in the practical truth. The Advocate is this constant old norm silently anchoring the world as it keeps moving into new norms.
6th Sunday of Easter