Acts 19:1-8; John 16:29-33
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from 365 Days with the Lord
JESUS’ 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.”
2007 In today’s gospel reading, we hear Jesus in His Last Discourse very realistically predicting that His disciples will have to suffer. However, He also tells them that, whatever their trials, they will always find peace in Him. This promise has been proven true a thousand times in the course of the centuries. An experienced master of spirituality like Benedictine monk Hubert van Zeller expresses his deep convictions on this topic:
“Lacking spirituality,” he writes, “human afflictions must appear as either punitive, arbitrary, vengeful, self-induced, imposed by blind fate or bad luck. It is only Christian faith, with its orientation towards Calvary, that can make sense of suffering. It is only prayer that can make it bearable, or even acceptable. When a man has learned through prayer that there is something that not even the greatest of sufferings can take from him, he can be at peace in the midst of disturbance. Like the supposed cell of silence in the heart of the tornado, there is an enclave within the soul which is proof against any distress one can mention” (The Current of Spirituality, p. 92).
The late Martin Luther King teaches the same thing in his book Strength to Love:
“A positive religious faith,” he says, “does not offer an illusion that we shall be exempt from pain and suffering, nor does it imbue us with the idea that life is a drama of unalloyed comfort and untroubled ease. Rather, it instills us with the inner equilibrium needed to face strains, burdens, and fears that inevitably come, and assures us that the universe is trustworthy and that God is concerned” (p. 123).
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
2008 Loneliness is what Jesus felt in today’s Gospel. In one last twist of misunderstanding, the disciples thought that they had grasped what Jesus had been teaching them – but they didn’t. Yet they asserted that Jesus was speaking plainly, with no veiled language (v. 29). They did make out at least His statement that He was going to leave the world and go to His heavenly Father. But, as Jesus told them, their faith was not yet complete. They didn’t really understand the way in which He was to depart and be glorified. They confessed only the first part of the pattern: That Jesus had come from the heavenly Father (v. 30). Their expression of confidence paralleled Peter’s unfounded claim that he was ready to die for Jesus, made during this same farewell of Jesus to His disciples at the Last Supper.
Jesus met their claims with the observation that they would be scattered (v. 32), a reference to the disciples’ flight at what would be the time of His most intense suffering and greatest need: In Gethsemane, in His Passion, and on the cross. Nevertheless, at the same time Jesus affirmed (v. 33) that He had conquered the world. His crucifixion would be a victory over those who were hostile to Him. The disciples showed that they’d come part of the way to a proper understanding of Jesus, but they still hadn’t fully grasped the significance of His departure. Jesus’ victory over the world enabled Him to promise the gift of peace to His failing and troubled disciples.
SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
2009 Scattered to his own home: All the four gospels record the tradition that the disciples flee at the time of Jesus’ passion. The Synoptic gospels situate this in Gethsemane. But in John, there is no mention of either the desertion or the “agony” in the Gethsemane scene. The evangelist even stresses the fidelity of one of them: the Beloved Disciple stands by the cross during the crucifixion (19:26). Here, he makes reference to the disciples’ failure to remain faithful (v 32).
The Synoptics focus on the human side of Jesus, depicting him in agony in Gethsemane. John chooses to focus on the union between the Son and the Father which is the source of Jesus’ strength. The passion is just as real in John as in the Synoptics. The former, however, shows Jesus remaining in command of the whole situation. He suffers because he (or the Father) allows it. No one takes his life from him; he lays it down on his own (10:18).
2010 PEACE IN JESUS
Peace is usually understood as freedom from war or public disturbance. On the level of the individual person, peace means absence of mental conflict. But the Hebrew shalom (peace) is more encompassing. Its fundamental idea is well-being in its totality. Anything that contributes to the wholeness can be expressed in terms of peace.
Shalom is also related to the Hebrew perception of salvation which is God’s gift and his action on behalf of the people of Israel. The covenant between the Lord and the people provides the gifts of shalom which includes liberation from evil individuals and groups and the acquisition of well-being and happiness.
In the New Testament, the Greek eirene (peace) is much the same as the Hebrew shalom. It basically means well-being and salvation. Peace is the gift of God in the person of Jesus Christ. At Jesus’ birth, the angelic hosts proclaim: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Lk 2:14). During his public ministry, Jesus preaches peace. He enters the city of Jerusalem as king of peace.
Peace is the fruit of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. Jesus breaks the enmity caused by sin. A Pauline passage proclaims this: “For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh… that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death” (Eph 2:14-16).
That peace is the fruit of Jesus’ paschal mystery is made clear in the proclamation of it to the disciples: “Peace be with you.” That this peace brings forgiveness and totality of God’s gift is made clear by the accompanying words of empowerment and comfort. The disciples have peace in the midst of trouble because Jesus has conquered the world.
2012 You will leave me alone. Jesus utters this prophecy not out of bitterness or frustration. Even though they will abandon him, it will not diminish his confidence in them. Jesus still accepts, believes, and loves them.
Jesus means to encourage and strengthen his disciples for the coming trials. He wants them to remember that when his hour comes, he will not be left alone; the Father will be with him.
And Jesus will do the same for the disciples. In their forthcoming trials and sufferings, they should be aware that he will be with them. He will accompany them in surmounting those tribulations. Jesus assures them that they will be victorious over the powers of sin and evil. They will be like him who has conquered the world.
We have many concerns and worries. We may be afraid to venture into the world to spread the gospel. We hesitate to take risks for the sake of God’s kingdom. We are afraid to face the challenges of a renewed life. We are ashamed to stand up for Jesus. We are afraid to sacrifice our comforts or lose the luxuries we enjoy in life.
Let us remember the reassuring words of Jesus: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” Jesus is always with us and for us. That is the only assurance we need.
Recall the good things you have done for Jesus. What more will you do for Jesus?
2013 I am not alone; the Father is with me. In John’s gospel, Jesus approaches his passion with a sense of confidence. He sees it as a return to his Father and as his own glorification. His great source of assurance is his knowledge that he is not alone; the Father is with him. He is, however, aware that his disciples will leave him alone. He knows that they will meet with trouble in the world. But he tells them to have courage because he himself is already victorious: he has conquered the world.
We also experience trouble in the world. But we can face any trouble and our future with confidence because Jesus, the Victor, is always with us, and when he is with us, his Father is with us also with their Spirit. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).
Besides, as the memorial of Our Lady of Fatima today celebrates, our Mother Mary is always there to help us.
“In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Rom 8:37).
2014 WE BELIEVE THAT YOU CAME FROM GOD. The disciples make this declaration, confident that they have improved in their knowledge and understanding of what Jesus is saying. They see their faith growing, and Jesus seems to be talking plainly.
Jesus gently rebukes them for their overconfidence. He knows that when he will be arrested, the disciples will be scattered like sheep. They will not remain with Jesus “until the end,” as they will not be able to lay down their lives for Jesus as yet.
Jesus, however, assures the disciples that although they will not be with him in his hour of suffering, he will not be alone because the Father is with him. Jesus is concerned not for himself, but for his disciples, and so while still in the cenacle, he prays for the disciples whom the Father has given him.
Despite their initial failure, the disciples will have peace, since, by his passion and resurrection, Jesus will conquer “the world” where the disciples have trouble. The disciples will have peace because they will share in Jesus’ victory over evil.
“What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? …neither death, nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35, 38-39).
2016 YOU WILL LEAVE ME ALONE. When Jesus speaks these words to His disciples at the Last Supper, He has just described what would happen a few hours later in the garden of Gethsemane. When he would need them most, they would flee. Human fear would overcome them upon seeing their Master arrested. Can we blame them? It will happen again and again in the history of the Church. There have been countless martyrs who stand up for Christ and for their faith; they accept suffering and even death, and we honor them as heroes of faith. But how many Christians have been scared of being persecuted or ridiculed for their faith! Their names are not remembered, but there may be more “deserters” than martyrs. When the teachings of the Church are attacked by our increasingly materialistic and permissive society, who will stand up and defend them? If all Catholics defend the teachings of the Church concerning sexuality and protection of life, no government will be able to enact contrary laws. But too many are afraid of being called old-fashioned or conservative, and they remain silent — leaving the Lord alone again!
Do I love Christ and the Church enough to defend teachings attacked by society? Do I remain silent out of fear to be ridiculed?
SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
2017 I have conquered the world. In John, the “world” has different connotations. It may mean the natural world created by God or humanity that lives in the world. But often, the world has a negative meaning — a world that is at enmity with God, a world ruled by the devil, and a world opposed to Jesus and His teaching. This last is the world that Jesus refers to when He tells His disciples, “In the world you will have trouble” (v 33b). Despite His miracles-signs showing that Jesus is from God, His detractors, who harden their hearts against Him, see Him only as a blasphemer, a Law-breaker, one who leads people astray. They even think that in seeking to kill Jesus, they give praise to God. Now, the faithful disciples share the fate of the Master, and later in persecuting them as well, their persecutors will think that they are doing the will of God.
But Jesus says, “Take courage, I have conquered the world” (v 33). Indeed, His enemies will succeed to have Him put to death, but His death will be His vindication. He will rise again, which is the Father’s glorification of His Son. His death — the sign of His total love — also marks the defeat of the devil and the world that prefers darkness because its deeds are evil.
What are your fears? What do you fear most?
Do you draw courage from your faith in Jesus who has conquered the world?
Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328
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