Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fifth Sunday of Easter Cycle A May 18, 2014

In the Gospel today Jesus tells His disciples – and that means He is speaking to you and to me – “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”   Now I don’t know about you, but I find that very difficult to accomplish.  How do you do that, not let your heart be troubled?  There are so many things that trouble and worry us.  Just listen to the news or read the paper.  There is so much to upset us.  Sometimes we can’t sleep.  We get down and depressed.  Some people even lose their appetite (I have not experience that.) 
          How do you NOT be troubled?   ¿Tell yourself, “OK, now I will not be troubled”, and by sheer force of will stop being troubled????    That doesn’t work for me, and I suspect it doesn’t work for you.  Certainly not all the time.
          I think it is important to know the reading of this line from the Gospel.  Is Jesus giving a command, an order, a commandment to us:  “You shall not let your hearts be  troubled!”  That would be pretty hard.
          Or is this more of an encouraging exhortation, almost a little bit of a pep talk?   As in “Oh, don’t let your hearts be troubled.”   I think it is more encouragement than commandment.
          We need to look at the context to understand how we should hear this line.  In the verse immediately before this Jesus has just predicted Peter’s three-time denial.  It reads “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me?  Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” JN 13:38 
          This statement of the Lord’s must have come as an embarrassing and disappointing shock to Peter and even all the other disciples.  They have just been told by Jesus that they will desert Him and be utter failures.  They will blow the test completely.  Can you imagine how it must have made them feel?
          It is in this context that Jesus reassures them:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”   Jesus is telling them, don’t worry.  Yes, you will blow it and screw up.  But it is not all about you.  So don’t worry, because it really depends not on you but on God.  And God will come through.  Have faith in God and faith in me, rather than in your own self.  Put the faith where it belongs.

          This is not a message designed to make the apostles – or us – feel good about themselves.  But it is a message of great hope.  God is faithful, and God will deliver.   Even when we mess up. 

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