St. John’s Gospels of the 4th going into the 5th Week of Easter continued on Jesus discourse at the Last Supper.
The scene is intimate: the Passover is drawing near and as practiced by the Jews, the Passover meal is an occasion for family and close friends only. You can imagine the closeness and intimacy in Jesus and his Apostles’ relationships with each other. Such a solemn and somber moment, as Jesus talked to comfort them, “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” (Jn. 14: 1-4)
This is so beautiful because imagine the idea of Jesus preparing a place for them! (and also for us, our Eternal Home!)
There are questions in faith, that prompt us to ask, just like what Thomas asked Our Lord,
“Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father also. From this point on you know him; you have seen him.” (Jn. 14:5-7)
True to Thomas personality, he prompted some of the most famous sayings of Jesus.
Moments before that, the Lord was talking sad (he must have been so hurt!), knowing that someone among his “close” friends, is going to turn him over:
“What I say is not said of all, for I know the kind of men I chose. My purpose here is the fulfillment of Scripture: `He who partook of bread with me has raised his heel against me.’ I tell you this now, before it takes place, so that when it takes place you may believe that I AM.” (Jn. 13:18-19)
The Lord is talking about Judas impending betrayal. We also know that another among them, Peter, will deny him three times before the night is over. Yet despite that, because of Jesus great love for his friends, he is still there, dining with them. In many instances at the present day, this scene is repeated again and again. In our relationships with Jesus, he must be as hurt as he was on that Last Supper evening, when we chose to be stupid than to be faithful to him. Many times we’ve hurt him, but the Lord is steadfast in his love. He knows our fickleness. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our struggles.
Last Wednesday, the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle. The homily was beautifully fitted into the readings. St. Peter exhorted the need to replace Judas, who betrayed Jesus:
“It is entirely fitting, therefore, that one of those who was of our company while the Lord Jesus moved among us, from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us, should be named as witness with us to his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21 – 22)
So in the days, the years, the centuries that followed, and even up to now, if one follower of Jesus abandons, another one is chosen to replace him. This is so that the apostolic succession is always continued. No other Church today can trace its roots back to the Apostles, other than the Catholic Church. Various storms has challenged, and will continue to rock it, but the Church will survive like a “ship in a stormy sea”. Jesus prophetic words rings loud and clear: “even the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Just like in the time of the Apostles, whenever it is necessary, the Church will replace those servants who have abandoned the faith. It’s just as simple as that. God in His infinite goodness, will allow us to decide whatever we like to do with our lives. He never forces himself on us. We are given the power to choose. Whether with us or without us aboard, the Church that Jesus founded will just continue to sail on, guided by the Holy Spirit.
Our Lord knows our struggles. He understands. He showed us the way to faithfulness. Let us choose to be faithful.
He also showed us to be compassionate to those who betray us, “especially those who we share bed and plate with.” Only God, as Creator, has that unique right to judge and deal with them. Given that, Jesus wants us to be compassionate too. “There is still such thing as healing, resilience, breakthroughs… and forgiveness. We don’t have to give up on them at the first sign of weakness.” (Code of Champions)
Difficult to forgive and heal?
Choice and cross go together. As far as your spirit can carry you, do not run away from pain. It is the only potion of life that can truly strengthen you for your battles. Welcome it, but don’t ask for it.