The Scriptures, and particularly the Gospels, tell us that faith comes through hearing. Today’s Gospel passage certainly backs up that claim. Jesus tells his disciples that they should not be troubled by the fact that he is going to leave them and return to the Father. In fact, he tells them that they should rejoice in that fact. So the question the Gospel asks and answers is this: How can anyone who is no longer in this world and is no longer seen or known by the people in it nevertheless be seen and known by his disciples?
The Gospel of St. John, and this chapter in particular, offers us the assurance of God’s reality, nearness, and love, which leads to moments of insight and communion with the source of all life and light. The text points to a love that keeps Jesus’ word, the first of which is to love one another with a practical love. In a community of disciples who show their love for Jesus and one another by acts of lowly service, disciples of Jesus see Jesus in others and others see Jesus in them. In fact, for John, this is the basic way to see Jesus.
In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see this notion validated. Paul and Barnabas persist in their preaching mission despite the violence they meet for their efforts. They bring the Gospel to the people of Antioch, Lystra, Derbe and Iconium. By preaching the Gospel to these Gentile people, they place the person of Jesus before them and baptize them in his name. They come to faith in Jesus even though they have never seen him. They have heard his Word, and their faith come through their hearing.
The Gospel is part of our everyday life. Perhaps our senses have been dulled by its repetition. Yet, it is only in our constant meditation on the words of Jesus that we can see and know him even though he is no longer with us physically. We live in a time when communal worship is limited because of the pandemic. However, the word of Jesus continues to inform our lives and lead us to Jesus.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator