The Simple Path
John 14:23-29, RSV

It is evident today that many people are searching for ways to become more “spiritual” in their daily lives, to find some way to connect to God or even to some vague notion of a “higher power.” It is also clear that many of these “spiritual seekers” are not going to church. So where do these “spiritual pilgrims” go? Well, judging by the number of spiritual self-help books being published, they go to bookstores, and there they look not so much for profound theological or philosophical thought, but for practical advice. Titles like “365 Ways to Strengthen Your Spirituality” sell much better than “What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual?”

The passage I have chosen for today from the Gospel of John lends itself to a “how-to” answer to this question — how to be more spiritual. St. John provides us with two paths to a deeper relationship with our Risen Lord, two ways to strengthen our spirituality: (1) by doing the works of Jesus (14:12-14) and (2) by keeping his commandments (14:15-24).

Some teachings by Mother Teresa, compiled in a book by Lucinda Vardey entitled “A Simple Path” (New York: Ballantine, 1995), suggest several ways to fulfill the guidance of St. John, but two of her ideas — the gift of love and peace through service — seem to be well aligned with St. John.

Doing the works of Jesus: “When you know how much God is in love with you,” Mother Teresa contended, “then you can live your life radiating that love.” But she insisted that this Divine radiance first be directed toward those closest to you: at home, at work, in your own neighborhood and city. She knew that it was easier to love people “far away” than to love them nearby.

Keeping our Lord’s commandments: Peace through service was of particular importance to Mother Teresa. There was a sign on the wall of her home for children in Kolkata (Calcutta) titled ANYWAY. The following quote comes from that sign.

“People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. LOVE THEM ANYWAY. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. DO GOOD ANYWAY. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. SUCCEED ANYWAY. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. DO GOOD ANYWAY. People need help but may attack you if you help them. HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.”

So do the works of Jesus and keep His commandments. The world may kick you, but God will bless you.
The Rev. John R. Bentley, Jr.
Pastoral Associate
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