Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

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Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled: A Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 14:1-14

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “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 except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’, says Jesus.  He’s speaking to his disciples in the Upper Room on the night before his death.  Judas has just left to betray him and Jesus knows he has only a short time left to say what needs to be said.  He sees deep into their troubled hearts.  He recognises their fear, apprehension and sorrow.  And he speaks.

He speaks from the perspective of one who was ‘acquainted with grief’.  Who, distraught at Lazarus’s tomb and just days away from his own, wept for his friend.  Who abided with Mary and Martha as they struggled with their grief and anger.  Who, even as he speaks, is preparing to face his own agony and death.  From the depths of his being come these words for his friends: Do not let your hearts be troubled.

And these are words for our aching hearts too.  In his Large Catechism, Martin Luther asks what it means to have a God.  The answer, according to Luther, is that God is the one upon whom you set your heart.  When our hearts are aching through separation from loved ones, fears for their health and well-being, and even the contemplation of our own mortality, Jesus comforts us.  When we ask where God is in suffering, Jesus shows us that God dwells with us now, loving us with a love that hung upon a cross and burst from a tomb.

And when we and Thomas cry out to know the way to God, Jesus assures us that  beyond this life we will find our home in the expansive roominess of the heart of God.

And until that time comes, Jesus reminds us that we have the capacity to do ‘even greater works’.  God continues to be made visible through all those who are faithful in living the way of love.  Those who speak words of gentleness.  Those who reach out their hands to comfort and heal.  Those who work for justice and peace.

We live in uncertain days.  And yet we live faithfully, setting our heart upon the God who is perfect love, and who says to us again and again, do not let your hearts be troubled.   

Risen Christ,
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father.

Amen

Archdeacon Hilary

 

Hilary Dawson

 


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