Jesus’ Comforting Promises
Our Gospel today is taken from Jesus’ “Last Supper Discourse” (John 13-17); it might be called “Jesus’ Farewell Address.” Several significant events have preceded Jesus’ words we hear today. He washed his disciples’ feet as a sign of radical service (13:1-20). Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal (13:21-30). He told his disciples that he will soon depart (13:33; 14:25). He gave them the new commandment of love (13:34-35) and foretold Peter’s imminent denial (13:36-38). No wonder the disciples are deeply troubled and filled with anxiety!
In this turbulent context Jesus speaks comforting words, assuring his disciples that he is not abandoning them; he will give them “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name” (14:26). Jesus gives several consoling assurances to his disciples; we can identify at least four of Jesus’ “promises”—all captured in words that begin with the letter P.
Peace of Heart. Jesus tells his disciples that their faith must be both in his Father and in him as the Son of the Father. This is complete faith, a faith that produces peace of heart. Jesus clearly assures his disciples that he is going to his Father; he will not abandon them, though he is going away. “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27).
Place in Heaven. Jesus comforts his disciples, assuring them there are “many rooms in my Father’s house” and that he is preparing places for them in his Father’s Kingdom. After our earthly journey, which may be filled with many difficulties and challenges, an eternal home awaits us in heaven. We recall Jesus’ words to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, he shall live forever” (Jn 11:25).
Promise of Return. Jesus assures his disciples that he will personally return and take them with him. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you” (Jn 14:18). Though Jesus may leave his disciples briefly as he experiences his passion and death, he will return as resurrected Lord and personally escort his followers to their eternal home in his Father’s house.
Performance of Christ-like Deeds. Remarkably, Jesus says: “I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself; he will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father…. If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:12-14).
Friends, we, like the disciples at the last supper, are often incredulous and weak in faith; Jesus’ promises seem outrageous and too good to be true. We humbly ask the Lord for deeper faith, seeking the dynamic presence and action of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
And we recall Pope Francis’ words in Tacloban, Philippines, during his 2015 pastoral visit to the victims of a devastating typhoon: “Jesus is Lord and he never lets us down!”
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
Prayer for the 6th Sunday of Easter
We stand on your promise, Lord,
that whenever two or more gather
together in your name, you are there
in our midst to hear, answer,
guard and guide us.
Grant us, therefore, peace of heart
trusting in your word and
believing you have prepared
a place for us in your Father’s house.
We look forward to your return,
Lord Jesus, to wipe away every tear
and fill us with that unending peace
this world cannot give.
Take our hands, Lord God, and work
through them to show your love to all.
Use our voices to speak your words
to all who long for your truth.
And may our steps never wander
from your way as we walk with
all who seek your love and peace
beginning here and now.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.