1) Opening prayer
Lord our God, almighty Father,
You have absolute power over the world,
and yet You respect the freedom of people,
even of those who persecute Your faithful.
Make us realize that our faith
does not protect us against the evil
which people bring upon one another,
but that You want us to build according to Your plan
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Help our faith to stand the test
when our meager efforts fail.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 14:27-31a
Jesus said to his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me."
• Here begins the farewell of Jesus, in John 14:27. At the end of chapter 14 He ends the conversation, saying, “Come now, let us go!” (Jn 14:31). But instead of leaving the room, Jesus continues to speak for three more chapters: 15, 16, and 17. At the beginning of chapter 18, we see the following phrase: “After He had said all this, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron valley where there was a garden which He entered with His disciples.” (Jn 18:1). In Jn 18:1, there is the continuation of Jn 14:31. The Gospel of John is like a beautiful building constructed slowly, rock on top of rock, brick upon brick. Here and there, there are signs of rearrangement or adaptation. In some way, all the texts, all the bricks, form part of a building and are the Word of God for us.
• John 14:27: The gift of Peace. Jesus communicates His peace to the disciples. The same peace will be given after the Resurrection (Jn 20:29). This peace is an expression of the manifestation of the Father, as Jesus had said before (Jn 14:21). The peace of Jesus is the source of joy that He communicates to us (Jn 15:11; 16:20,22,24; 17:13). It is a peace which is different from the peace which the world gives us. It is different from Pax Romana. At the end of the first century the Pax Romana was maintained by force and violent repression against the rebellious movements. Pax Romana, as a policy of the Roman government, guaranteed institutionalized inequality between the Roman citizens and the slaves. This is not the peace of the Kingdom of God. The peace which Jesus communicates is what in the Old Testament is called “shalom.” It is the complete organization of all life around the values of justice, fraternity and equality.
• John 14:28-29: The reason why Jesus returns to the Father. Jesus returns to the Father in order to be able to return immediately. He will say to Mary Magdalene, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father” (Jn 20:17). Going up to the Father, He will return through the Holy Spirit which He will send (cf. Jn 20; 22). Without the return to the Father, He will not be able to stay with us through the Spirit.
• John 14:30-31a: That the world may know that I love the Father. Jesus had ended the last conversation with the disciples. The prince of this world wanted to impose himself on the destiny of Jesus. Jesus will die. In reality, the prince of this world, the Tempter, the Devil, has no power over Jesus. The world will know that Jesus loves the Father. This is the great witness of Jesus which impels the world to believe in Him. In proclaiming the Good News, it is not a question of spreading doctrine or imposing Canon Law, or of uniting all in one organization. It is above all a question of living and radiating what the human being desires and has deeper in his heart through intimacy with God: love. Without this, the doctrine, the Law, the celebration, will only be a wig on a bald head.
• John 14:31b: Come now, let us go. These are the last words of Jesus and the expression of His decision to be obedient to the Father, revealing His love. In the Eucharist, at the moment of the consecration, in some countries, it is said, “On the day before His passion, voluntarily accepted.” In another place Jesus says, “This is why the Father loves Me: because I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own free will. I have power to lay it down so I have power to take it up again, and this is the command that I have received from My Father.” (Jn 10:17-18)
4) Personal questions
• Jesus says, “I give you My peace.” How do I contribute to the building of peace in my family and in my community?
• Looking into the mirror of the obedience of Jesus toward the Father, how could I improve my obedience to the Father?
• Jesus told His disciples beforehand so that they would believe. Do I need to “see” beforehand in order to believe, or do I see everything with faith and trust?
• We also have choices to lay down our “life” for others every day – in charity and denial of self in order to serve others in our daily “life”. Do I volunteer my “life” every day, all day, or only sometimes or only when asked?
5) Concluding Prayer
All Your creatures shall thank You, Yahweh,
and Your faithful shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingship
and tell of Your might. (Ps 145:10-11)