In today’s Gospel (John 14: 27-31) Jesus prepares his disciples for his passion and death. For the final time, he instructs them that he will be leaving them, but only to return. He reassures them that even though the ‘ruler of the world is coming,’ he has no power over Jesus.
Then Jesus says an interesting thing:
He (the ruler of the world) 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. (John 14: 30-31)
Even though the ‘ruler of the world’ has no power over Jesus, he still submits to the passion, the cross, even to death. Jesus endures all of these injustices and indignities in obedience to the Father, as evidence of his love. Then, as proof that he laid down his life freely, that no one took it from him, (John 10: 17-18) he rises from the dead.
In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (14: 19-28) Paul is stoned and left for dead. Paul, surrounded by his disciples, gets up and continues to preach the good news. Paul travels from one city to the next making new disciples, strengthening others in the faith, and exhorting them to persevere in faith, even in the face of difficulties. He instructs them: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Two tenets of faith stand out for us today. First, we should not be surprised when we run into roadblocks in our efforts to live our faith. We should even expect to experience resistance in our efforts to proclaim the good news in the world today. When we encounter these obstacles, we as Jesus must remember that the ‘ruler of this world’ has no power over us, because of our faith in Jesus. We, as Paul, are to be courageous and persevere in the faith.
Second, Jesus, who has power over all things, who is LIFE itself, has shared his life with us. This is the power of the resurrection, the LIFE that IS God has conquered sin and death. This is the Divine Life that Jesus shares with us through Baptism. This is the Life that is nourished in us through the Eucharist. This is the Life we sustain be means of the virtues.
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that even when the disciples saw the risen Lord, ‘they worshipped, but they doubted.’ (Matthew 28: 17) We also have our doubts at times, but we persevere. Jesus reminded them once again:
All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Life of the Risen Christ is now ours. Christ lives in us, and we live in him. He has entrusted his mission to us. Let us be about the work of preaching the good news, making disciples. Let us be on our way, in faith and confidence. Let us live in the Peace of Christ, even as we face hardships that are a part of our entering the Kingdom of God.