Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

John 13-17 is known as the Jesus’ Farewell Discourse.  These are Jesus’ last words before his Passion begins.  John 13 is the Washing of the Feet and the announcement of Judas’ betrayal.  John 17 is known as Jesus’ priestly prayer.  It is a prayer to the Father.  So, John 14-16 is the heart of the discourse.  Thus, John 16 is the last teaching before the Passion to the Apostles.  When I read John 14-16 straight through, I see a final review session.  Jesus is working with the Apostles in a cram session on what they need to know before his Passion.  But he also covers a lot of what they need to know after he ascends to the Father. 

I am struck by how much of this discourse focuses on telling the Apostles to have peace.  It also brackets the whole section.  John 14 begins, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”  Jesus’ last words in the Upper Room at the end of John 16 that we hear in today’s Gospel are “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.”

I am also struck by how much Jesus’ reassurance is based on what awaits us in the next life.  He does not promise an easy life here.  Quite the contrary.  “In the world you will have trouble.”  But we are told to have peace because, in the next life, there are many dwelling places prepared for us (Jn 14:2). 

We are also promised that he will be with us in this life.  He will not leave us orphans (Jn 14:18).  Twice, he promises to send us an Advocate.

We live in this world now.  As we will hear on Wednesday, we do not belong to this world, any more than Jesus belonged to this world.  In this world, we are given what we need to stay on the road that leads back to Christ.  We are given the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.  We are given the Church and the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist.  We are given promises of what lies beyond…reasons for hope. 

Amid our difficulties, we are not to lose hope.  Because we are not left as orphans.  Jesus is with us.  The Holy Spirit is with us.  And, whatever we think about the problems of this world, we know that Jesus has conquered the world. 

Are we able to keep our eyes focused on our destination?  Focused on Christ?  In the midst of the storms of this world, can our faith, our hope, and our trust in God keep us from panic?  Do we really believe that the victory has already been won?