The Gospel according to John (16:29-33)
His disciples said, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I am searching for you and I want to follow you. I know you are here with me in this time of prayer. I want to be filled by your presence. Give me the courage to follow you more closely.
Encountering Christ: I think we have all been in a situation, had an experience, or a relationship that has been so full of grace we have felt overwhelmed with love and hope. Then, it ends and instantly we begin to panic wondering how we will ever survive. I have had such experiences after a powerful retreat, intense prayer, or an encounter with a true disciple of Christ; the feeling of now what, and we scatter.
In today’s gospel Jesus shares a message with his disciples that is difficult to accept. First, they are perplexed with how Jesus begins to tell them he is leaving. During this discourse, in a previous verse, Jesus says “A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” It must have been sinking in that Jesus was saying goodbye, but how could this be? They were not ready for their leader to leave. What would they do? How could they carry on? In addition to confusion, they must have felt incredibly nervous and scared.
Although the disciples believed that was not enough. If we believe that is not enough. It did not help that Jesus said that in the world they would have trouble. In today’s world we have plenty of that. But Jesus says “…take courage. I have conquered the world.” Why was Jesus so confident in his encouragement of his followers? Jesus knew he was not alone because the Father was with him. How many times did Jesus tells his disciples that he was in the Father and the Father was in him? And, if we believe, are baptized, and obey his commandments we would be in him. This connection, this relationship that Jesus restored makes it possible for those who believe to have the peace we are offered in him.
Then there is the promise of an advocate who would enkindle us with the love of God that would provide us with the courage and faith to move mountains. This week we prepare to experience Pentecost, next Sunday. We are invited to consider how we may have scattered and how we as believers can rely on how the Father does not leave us alone. Empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit we receive the grace to respond to the question, “Do you believe now?” with an emphatic, yes. A yes that takes us beyond belief to a life filled with little and big miracles that bring us together so we may proclaim the love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness of Jesus the Christ.
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, when you left this world, you assured your followers that despite the trouble of the world you had conquered the world. Not to end suffering and hardships but to give us the courage to endure, persevere, and grow in faith. May we rely on your sacrifice and all your promises to sustain us as we minister to each other every day.
Action for the Day: Pray in preparation for the celebration of Pentecost. Meditate and think about how we may have scattered in our faith life and make a conscious to clear some room for the Holy Spirit. It is still Spring, let’s clean out some unwanted or unneeded things and create some precious space.