Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
A Heart With No Worries and a House of Promise
As we continue our Easter journey and look forward to the event of Pentecost, we find the scholars of the Church redirecting us to the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. The words of comfort that Jesus of Nazareth gave to his disciples and the destiny that he promised have profound significance to post-resurrection believers. Jesus confronts his disciples with the reality of his departure — that is death. The heaviness in the air must have been incredible — fear takes over, dreams begin to fade, and promises take flight. The disciples left everything to follow Jesus and now he was going to leave them? Christ’s news must have been devastating, leaving the disciples broken-hearted.
Hwever, Jesus reads his disciples’ minds like a book. His response is not one of judgment or criticism, but one of consolation and stability: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” Even though Jesus stood on the edge of his own suffering and death, he offers God’s consolation and a way forward to the people around him. Jesus wanted to reassure his disciples by telling them to rely on their faith. He reminded them that faith and trust in God would help them through the event of the cross. The experience of his resurrection a few days later proves this very point. Jesus shows that we can overcome death itself and the sting of death which is sin. By his rising from the dead and ascending to the Father, he shows us that there is a place for each one of us in the Father’s house.
Speaking of reading minds, you are probably thinking, “If only faith were that easy!” If we are truthful with ourselves, we acknowledge that fear can be a dominant force in our lives. Human experience sometimes challenges our thought process or even the way in which we believe. The reality is that life is not always easy. Even our faith can be challenged by the pluralism that pervades our society and relativism that gnaws away at the Truth, all under the guise of reason. Human suffering can also erode the hope and strength that have been our rock. As we encounter these challenges to our lives and to our faith experience, the gospel reminds us of the importance of seeking the way, the truth, and the life, as Jesus taught us. Even in the turmoil of suffering when a spouse asks the difficult question of why their spouse should suffer, or when a child contemplates the loss of their mother, or a friend tearfully watches another friend grow weak in illness, Christ continues to breathe his peace into their very hearts through the ministry and discipleship of the Church. He tells us not to have troubled hearts but to open ourselves to the promise of rising above suffering and death and finding our place in the Father’s house.
Bring your peace into our weary hearts, O Lord. Help us to embrace the way, the truth, and the life as you see fit, not as the world sees fit. Help us to live through the times of trial and suffering, reminding us of the beautiful resting place prepared by you, for us, in the Father’s house. Amen.
Why does Jesus’ imminent departure trouble his disciples?
What does Jesus mean by “many dwelling places”?
In what way does this wisdom impact your life?
What troubles you?
Does this particular part of John’s gospel help in your grief?
What does the “Way” mean to you?
What is the “Truth” Jesus is referring to?
How does Jesus demonstrate the “Life” for you and the Church?
How do you think Jesus will return to take you “to himself”?
In what ways does this gospel help you in paving the way to your destiny?
Wisdom of the Fathers
“The Gospel of the day recounts Jesus saying to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
“These words of Jesus are really beautiful words. In a moment of farewell, Jesus speaks to his disciples, really from the heart. He knows that his disciples are sad, because they realize that things are not going well. He says: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled.’ And he starts to talk like that, just like a friend, even with the attitude of a pastor. I say, the music in the words of Jesus is how the pastor should behave, like a shepherd with his sheep, right? ‘…Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God, in me.’ And what does he start to talk about? About Heaven, about the definitive homeland. ‘Have faith in me’: I remain faithful, it is as if he said that, right? …Like an engineer, like an architect He tells them what He will do: ‘I am going to prepare a place, in my Father’s house is my dwelling.’ And Jesus goes to prepare a place for us.”
“What is that place like? What does ‘prepare a place’ mean? Does it mean renting a room up there? ‘Prepare a place’ means preparing our ability to enjoy the chance — our chance — to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of that homeland towards which we walk.”
“And all of Christian life is the work of Jesus, the Holy Spirit to prepare a place, prepare our eyes to be able to see… ‘But, Father, I see fine! I don’t need glasses!’ But that’s another type of vision… Think of those who are suffering from cataracts and have to undergo an operation to remove them: they can still see, but after surgery what do they all say? ‘I never thought you could see so well without glasses!’ Our eyes, the eyes of our soul they need, they have to be prepared to contemplate the beautiful face of Jesus. Our hearing must be prepared in order to hear the beautiful things, the beautiful words. Above all our hearts must be prepared: prepared for love, to love more…
In our life’s journey the Lord prepares our hearts “with trials, with consolations, with tribulations, with good things… The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation. Sometimes the Lord has to do it quickly, as he did with the good thief: he only had a few minutes to prepare him and he did it. But the normal run of things goes this way, no?: in preparing our heart, eyes, hearing to arrive in this homeland. Because that is our homeland. ‘But, Father, I went to a philosopher and he told me that all these thoughts are an alienation, that we are alienated, that life is this, the concrete, and no one knows what’s beyond…’ Some think this is so …but Jesus tells us that it is not so and says, ‘Have faith in me’. This I tell you is the truth: I do not cheat, I do not deceive.
Preparing for heaven means beginning to greet him from afar. This is not alienation: this is the truth, this is allowing Jesus to prepare our hearts, our eyes for the beauty that is so great. It is the path of beauty and the path to the homeland.”
— Pope Francis’ comments at Holy Mass, Casa Santa Marta, April 24, 2013
image: Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 30, 2017. (Catholic News Service photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)