Balik-Tanaw Sunday Gospel Reflection | 5th Sunday of Easter: Don’t Be Troubled

Boy Domingiez’s painting

By Deaconess Sharon David McCart
United Methodist Church 

We are living in difficult times. The threat comes not only from Covid-19 but also from food shortages and extrajudicial killings, of being imprisoned (justly or unjustly) in overcrowded conditions. Too many of us know someone who has died during this pandemic. Too many of us are going hungry. Many of us are without jobs and have no way to buy food even if we could find it. Some of us are ill and unable to get medicine and care.

Against this reality, we may ask about these words that Christ spoke:

“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me.” (John 14:1, CEB)

It is difficult to avoid being troubled or worried. Even if we trust in God, we may be anxious. We may wonder even more when we read the next verse, in which Christ says that “I go to prepare a place for you!” Maybe we are not quite ready to go to that place yet!

The disciples were also unable to avoid worry and anxiety, just as we are. Christ had just shared the last supper with them and was saying things they didn’t understand, that where he was going they couldn’t follow now, but they would follow later. They were confused. His words were troubling them. So we are not alone in being troubled in difficult times.

No matter how worried we are by today’s circumstances, we know that people (including many of us!) are taking food to the hungry and caring for others in whatever ways we can, often at risk to ourselves. We are still serving others as we choose day by day, minute by minute to follow Christ. As he went to the cross and as the disciples preached the Gospel in the face of persecution, we are obedient to the command to love our neighbors even when it is dangerous, even if we are afraid.

Christ told us something that we may find hard to believe. He said, “I assure you that whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. They will do even greater works than these because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12). We may say that only Christ can do great works, that we cannot. But we never know what we can do if we pray and then act. If we “pray with our hands and feet,” we can save lives, we can restore hope, we can be the answer to someone else’s prayer.

When we collect donations that make it possible to feed the hungry, we are multiplying the loaves and fish. When we show that we care about the marginalized by our deeds as well as our words, we can think about it as turning water into wine. When we reach out to the suffering, offering our time and our compassion, we are restoring people to society just as Christ did when he healed the hemorrhaging woman, the lepers, the man living in the graveyard, and more.

The psalmist tells us that God’s love will “deliver their lives from death and keep them alive during a famine.” (Psalm 33:19). We are called by God to love others for this purpose. We are obeying the command to love our neighbors as ourselves by feeding people who would otherwise starve to death.

When we are following Christ, acting as his hands, feet, and heart in this world, we will find hope. When we are serving others, our hearts will be less troubled.

And perhaps we can find a way to sing the Lord’s song in this strange land we find ourselves living in. How can we keep from singing, even in this time of trouble and anxiety? God loves us, calls us, cares for us, strengthens us, guides us. Praise God for his faithfulness to us!

This hymn is in my heart today. It was written over one hundred years ago by Robert Lowry, with words added by Pete Seeger. Maybe it will speak to your heart as well.

“My life flows on in endless song
Above Earth’s lamentation
I hear the real, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation
Above the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest loudly roars
I hear the truth, it liveth
What though the darkness round me close
Songs in the night it giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is lord of Heaven and Earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble, sick with fear
And hear their death-knell ringing
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?”

(Link: )

Balitktanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing ,reading, and reflecting on these with the current context(tanaw)

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