Reflection on John 16:29-33.
Jesus said: “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.” (John 16:33)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus concludes the Last Supper Discourses, essentially His parting instructions to the apostles before His Passion, Death and Resurrection. Jesus warns us that we will have trouble in our world, but invites us to find our peace in Him because He has conquered the world. Jesus never promises us a trouble-free world, but promises us instead that He will be with us in even the most troubled of times.
As I have reflected on the effect of the coronavirus on our economy, I have been amazed at how fragile our economy is. In less than three months, the virus has brought our economy almost to its knees. I say this not as criticism of any particular policies or decisions, but in recognition of the fact that the things of our world are fragile and fleeting. In contrast, God is eternal and unchanging; God offers us peace, the peace the world cannot give. (See John 14:27)
I am reminded of the Book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament. It takes place after Babylonian invasion in 587 B.C., which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people. Troubling times to be sure, in fact it was one of the lowest times in Jewish history. Yet, in the midst of anguish, Habakkuk concludes with the following:
“For though the fig tree does not blossom,
and no fruit appears on the vine,
Though the yield of the olive fails
and the terraces produce no nourishment,
Though the flocks disappear from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD
and exult in my saving God.
GOD, my Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet swift as those of deer
and enables me to tread upon the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
Habakkuk does not gloss over any of the difficulties the people are facing, but he ends with a very important point. God might not choose to change the reality we are faced with, but He will always help us get through it. Have courage: Jesus has conquered the world, and invites us to share in His peace, the peace the world cannot give. Alleluia!
Peace to you as we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension to the Father this week and await the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.