Thursday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

John 14:27-31

Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

Jesus is going away.  He is going to come back (for just a short time before his ascension), but he is going away.  Yet, he tells his disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  He said the first clause of that verse in the beginning of the chapter when he told them that he was going away to prepare a place for them.  Now he says this because as he goes away, he will leave them with peace.  And he has also spoken previously of the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Helper and Comforter, who will be with them and lead them into all truth by reminding them of the words of Jesus, which came directly from the Father.

But Jesus gives them another reason so that their hearts may not be troubled, and it calls for the disciples to exercise great selflessness, and it is simply this: Jesus is going to the Father, and they should rejoice with him for that.  Rejoicing is a great antidote to anxiety, especially rejoicing over heavenly things.  Jesus tells them that, if they truly loved him, they would rejoice that he is returning to his rightful place, that place beside the Father whom he loves in an infinite and eternal way that we will never comprehend, whom he gladly serves at every moment such that he is willing to sacrifice himself in a painful death to bring many sons and daughters to salvation.  We rejoice at the homecoming of a serviceman returning to teary-eyed family members at airports having a sense of the anxiety that poor mother must have endured during the absence of her son.  We should be just as teary-eyed that our Savior returned to his Father, the plan of salvation being accomplished and his painful task complete.  Yes, there is a sense in which the Son in his divine state never left the Father.  But Jesus makes it plain here that he was returning to his Father, implying some kind of “spatial distance” because of his humanity.  Yes, God is omnipresent; yet, we understand that there is a difference between being with God while on earth and being with him in heaven, which we all long for.  It was that immediate presence with the Father (and now with his embodied humanity) that our Lord craved and over which he asked his disciples to rejoice with him.

Jesus mentions that the devil (“ruler of this world”) is coming for him, but he’s not worried.  The devil has no rightful claim on the Sinless One.  He has obeyed everything his Father commanded him, and, as Jesus said, that proves his love for the Father, just as obedience proves our love for them both.  In other words, Jesus asks nothing of us that he hasn’t done himself.  Let not our hearts be troubled; instead rejoice: Jesus has gone to the Father.

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