5th Sunday of Easter, 14 May 2017

From the Dean’s Desk

Dear Friends in Christ,

The famous Scottish theologian and Biblical scholar, William Barclay (1907-1978), in his commentary on John’s Gospel speaks about the impending gloom of the disciples as they are gathered in the upper room listening to Jesus’ farewell discourse (John 13:1-17:26): ‘in a short time life for the disciples was going to fall in. Their world was going to collapse in chaos around them. At such a time, there is only one thing to do – stubbornly to hold onto trust in God…there comes a time when we have to believe where we cannot prove and to accept where we cannot understand. If in the darkest hour, we believe that somehow there is a purpose in life and that that purpose is love, even the unbearable becomes bearable and even in the darkness there is a glimmer of light.’ [Barclay, The Gospel of John: The Daily Study Bible, Volume 2, pp 152-153].

Today’s Gospel passage from John [14:1-12] finds Jesus recognising and making public the agitated feelings of the disciples as he says plainly and openly: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God still and trust in me’ [14:1]. The world of the disciples was about to change drastically and dramatically. One of them would betray him to the religious leaders, some of them would accompany him to the Garden of Gethsemane and witness his anguish and arrest, one of them would deny him, the others would desert him, John alone would venture with Mary and the other women to Calvary. After the horrific death of Jesus, they would be gathered in the Upper Room behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Certainly, their world would be collapsing ‘in chaos around them’. To prepare them for this Jesus tells them to simply trust in him and in God. You could imagine the disciples recollecting Jesus’ words as they huddled in the Upper Room. His words asking them to trust in God and in himself – to receive a peace that the world could not give – would have been assuring, comforting and strengthening them in their time of desolation, fear and discord.

We too may find throughout life that there are many things that can trouble our own hearts. Internationally, there is the ever-present threat of terrorism and violence, of wars that seem to never end, of people being displaced from their homeland, of the threat of nuclear war. There is the presence of economic instability and natural disasters that seem to be occurring ever more frequently, causing greater damage. On the local front, there is the threat of a mentality that challenges and seems to want to destroy the very principles of our society: the family and the value and sacredness of life. On a personal level there always seems to be one or two areas of life that can always cause us consternation and anxiety.

In all this we too can find ourselves a little like the disciples: perplexed, confused, fearful. In the face of all these things that capture our hearts and throw us into disarray, Jesus simply asks us to have faith in him and in God. There comes a time in our lives when we realise that we have done all that we can about our problems and issues in life, often finding ourselves not having a clue on how to progress in certain troubling situations. Placing our trust in Jesus and in God better allows us to trust in ourselves and in others in dealing with the troubles and challenges in life. As Barclay points out that in ‘our darkest hour we need to believe that somehow there is a purpose in life and that that purpose is love’.

We are familiar with the popular GPS that can guide and direct us in unfamiliar and unexplored places. Today, Jesus presents himself as our life’s spiritual GPS system as he states that he is the ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’ [John 14:6]. This Way is found in the Truth of his word and his example. His Way leads to eternal Life. In placing our faith in Him, we then are offered Life in its fullness [see John 10:10]. Faith in Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life does not guarantee that we will know how the mysteries and troubles of life will unfurl. It does however give us an assurance that we do not travel that difficult road alone. It allows us to believe that life’s purpose stems from God’s love and that that love adds light to our world, even in those dark moments. The challenge for us is to not allow our hearts to be troubled, but simply and honestly to place our trust in God and in Jesus, the Way, Truth and Life. Last Sunday we were challenged to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd [John 10:1-10] in our lives, among the many other voices that ask for our attention. Having been able to recognise his voice, we are challenged this week to have the faith and trust to follow Him, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Fr Robert Bossini
Dean and Parish Priest