1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
when Your Son Jesus had to pass through trials,
He knew that you were with Him
and He committed Himself into Your hands.
In this way He brought peace to people.
As people baptized into His name,
let Your Spirit help us to be brave
when suffering and difficulties come our way,
that, like Your Son and with Him,
we may overcome evil in ourselves
and in the world.
May our pains give birth
to love and peace and hope for others.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 16:29-33
The disciples said to Jesus, "Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God." Jesus answered them, "Do you believe now? Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone. But I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 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."
• The context of today’s Gospel continues to be the environment of the Last Supper, an environment of fraternity and of farewell, of sadness and expectation, which mirrors the situation in the communities of Asia Minor at the end of the first century. In order to be able to understand the Gospels well, we can never forget that they give the words of Jesus not as if they had been recorded on a CD to transmit them literally. The Gospels are pastoral writings which seek to embody and update the words of Jesus in the new situations in which the communities find themselves in the second half of the first century in Galilee (Matthew), in Greece (Luke), in Italy (Mark) and in Asia Minor (John). In the Gospel of John, the words and the questions of the disciples are not only those of the disciples. In fact, they reveal the questions and problems of the communities. They are the mirror in which the communities of that time, as well as those of today, are recognized with their sadness and their anguish, with their joys and their hopesThey find light and strength in the answers of Jesus.
• John 16:29-30: ‘Now, you are speaking plainly." Jesus had told His disciples, ‘The Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and you have believed that I come from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I am leaving the world to go to the Father (Jn 16:29-30)." Listening to this affirmation of Jesus, the disciples answered, "Now You are speaking plainly and not using veiled language. Now we see that You know everything and need not wait for questions to be put into words. Because of this we believe that You came from God". The disciples think that they have understood everything. Yes, truly they got a true light to clarify their problems,but it was still a very dim light. They got the seed, but at that moment, still did not know the tree. The light or the seed was the fundamental intuition of faith according to which Jesus is for us the revelation of God, who is Father: "Now we believe that you came from God." This was only the beginning, the seed. Jesus Himself was and continues to be the great parable, the revelation of God for us. God reaches us and reveals Himself to us,, but God does not enter into any representations. He exceeds all, goes beyond our representations and gives us the unexpected surprise, which sometimes is very painful.
• John 16:31-32: You are leaving Me alone and yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me. Jesus asks, "Do you believe at last?" He knows His disciples. He knows that there is still much lacking in their understanding of the mystery of God and of the Good News of God. He knows that in spite of their good will and in spite of the light that they have just received in that moment, they still have to face the unexpected and painful surprise of the passion and death of Jesus. The small light that they got is not sufficient to overcome the darkness of this crisis: "Behold, the time will come, indeed it has come already, when you are going to be scattered, each one going his own way and leaving Me alone; and yet I am not alone because the Father is with Me." This is the source of certitude of Jesus and through Jesus, this is and will be the source of certitude for all of us: The Father is with me! When Moses was sent to liberate the people from the oppression of the Egyptians, this being his mission, he received this certainty: “”Go! I am with you” Ex 3:12). The certainty of the liberating presence of God is expressed in the name that God assumes at the moment of the beginning of the Exodus and of the liberation of his people: JHWH, God with us: This is the name for all time (Ex 3:15).
• John 16:33: "Courage, I have conquered the world!" And now we have the last sentence pronounced by Jesus who anticipates victory and which will be a source of peace and of strength for the disciples of that time, as well as for all of us, up until now: "I have told you all this so that you may find peace in Me. In the world you will have hardship, but be courageous, I have conquered the world." With His sacrifice made out of love, Jesus conquers the world and Satan. His disciples are called to participate in the struggle and the victory. "To feel the courage which He gives is already to overcome the battle’. (L.A. Schokel)
4) For Personal Examination
• A small light helped the disciples to take a step farther, but it did not light the whole journey. Have you had a similar experience in your life?
• Courage, I have conquered the world! Has this saying of Jesus helped you some times in your life?
5) Concluding Prayer
Protect me, O God, in You is my refuge.
To Yahweh I say, "You are my Lord, I have no good apart from You.
My birthright, my cup is Yahweh;
You, You alone, hold my lot secure." (Ps 16:1-2,5)