|Sean McGraw ’92, ’00 M.Div.
Time is everywhere in John’s Gospel. The first disciples met Jesus at four in the afternoon. The Samaritan woman met Jesus at the well at noon. Jesus’ crucifixion was about noon. John even describes events with phrases like, “it was not yet Jesus’ time,” or “it was the appointed time.”
Time defines today’s gospel as well. Note how descriptions of when, now, at once, and a little while longer indicate a sense of urgency in Jesus’ last encounter with his disciples. It was essential to John to mark the times when events occurred because grace happens in real-time. Every disciple’s life changed because of concrete experiences with Christ.
Like John, we can recall key times in our lives, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and graduations, because these are the experiences and occasions that shape us. However suitable it is to mark the time and the seasons, we can also labor under time’s tyranny as our digital devices endlessly signal when to exercise, sleep, or jump on a zoom meeting.
Despite our human emphasis and reliance on time, Jesus transforms it rather than being constrained by it.
In today’s gospel, Judas had just left to betray Jesus, yet Jesus speaks and acts with love by focusing on God, his Father, and living out this love. Thus, Jesus’ parting words are this new commandment, to love one another. The more we enter into this commandment, the more time changes for us too.
Perhaps we can take a moment this Easter season to focus on how much we are loved and how we are called to be love for others through our presence, forgiveness, and understanding. Then the moments we want to mark because they change us for the good and unite us with God will be countless!