- Francis of Assisi
“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can’t take him in because it doesn’t have eyes to see him, doesn’t know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you! “I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you. “The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”
- John 14.15-21 (The Message)
The wonderfully zany comedy team of Abbott and Costello informed us years ago that it’s not always easy to know who’s on first. If you remember their hilarious routine of that name – Who’s on First? – you get my drift; if you don’t know the routine… well, it’s worth a google.
Who’s on first? Are all the bases covered? Every ball team needs to know this before leaving the dugout. If we transfer the question from the baseball diamond to the field of life, however, the question takes on added urgency and significance. Are all the bases covered? That is to say, are we protected; are we cared for; are we looked after, prepared for what may come our way, sufficient to the tasks at hand? And at the deepest level, the question becomes simple yet all encompassing, are we loved?
Are we loved? That’s really what we want to know before taking the field of life, isn’t it; before sharing ourselves with others, before risking losing ourselves in the unpredictable ups and downs of life? I think it is. If someone’s got our back, we can take the plunge; if someone is faithfully with us, we are more than willing to share who we are and what we possess… at least to a certain degree.
That’s all John’s Jesus asks of his followers in the passage cited above; share, give… love. He asks them to know and keep his commandments; but he’s made this easy, there is only one commandment: love. And he clearly answers the one question they need to ask before making any effort at all; are we loved?
Just look at the many ways Jesus assures his followers in this passage. Take note of the repetitions and variations by which he underscores the basic assurance of love. God will provide another friend …who will be with you …who will be in you …so you will never be alone. Nor will I abandon you, Jesus says. You will not be orphaned on my account; you’ll see me again. I will be with you …in you; and – did I mention? - my Father will love you. Another friend, Jesus himself… and the Father’s love; what more could we ask for?
It’s not always easy to know who’s on first. It’s not always easy to know if the bases are covered and it’s okay to risk sharing who we are and what we have with others. But if we have the slightest inclination to do so - to love in some meager way – we can rest assured that God’s got all the bases covered. With God we always know who’s on first.