Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
5th Sunday of Easter Year A
St. John 14: 1 — 14
After our Lord’s death and resurrection it became the natural practice for members of the infant Church, under the leadership of the Apostles, to look back over the events and teaching of Jesus, and interpret them with the help of the Holy Spirit. This practice has continued down to our times throughout the greater part of Christianity. Thus in our three-year lectionary of Gospel readings, after Easter, we find ourselves going back over our Lord’s lessons, and reflecting on their meaning, just as the disciples of Jesus did.
This reading is taken from the long discourse of our Lord to His Apostles immediately after the Last Supper, which is recorded in John chapters 13 — 17. If you take a glance at these chapters don’t be concerned if you have trouble getting the sequence, particularly in chapters 14 — 17. Jesus is commenting on events yet to happen. Time is collapsed: present, past, future are not always distinct.
In John 13: 33, Jesus starts hinting about changes to take place.
“My dear companions, I shall not be with you very much longer.
You will look for me; but I tell you now what I told the
Jewish authorities, ‘You cannot go where I am going’.”
A little later, Simon Peter asks “Where are you going Lord?” Jesus gently “leads him on” so that Peter insists that he will follow his master now and is ready to die for Him. Jesus, even more gently, questions Peter about really being ready to die for Him and adds:
“Before the rooster crows you will say three times that you
do not know me.”
It is only after the events of Easter / Passover, that the real lessons are appreciated. For now, we join the Apostles around the table with Jesus. Having answered Peter’s enquiries on a one-to-one basis, He now prepares the rest of the group for their ordeal which is now only an hour or two away. If we read and ponder very carefully, we can sense the depth of feeling with which Jesus has dealt with Peter’s probing, and the concerns of the others.
Ronald Cox sums up the situation very skilfully and this can help us get the gist of the whole passage.
This is the last day of Jesus’ mortal life. The intimate, daily association
with his apostles is finished; it will never be taken up again. He has eaten
his last meal with them; he is now saying good-bye. It is definite, permanent,
irrevocable; and that is why everyone is so sad. He had come on earth as
man for two purposes: to redeem mankind, and to found a kingdom
(his church) to bring that redemption to all men. By the end of this day he
would have accomplished both: his work on earth would be concluded.
From then onward he will begin a new relationship with his followers;
no longer physically present and visible to their eyes, but more intimately
with them by the supernatural vision of faith. He is more than a human
friend and leader: he is their God. And that is the theme of all this farewell
discourse. It is set out in the first sentence as a title, like the opening
words of John’s gospel.
All partings are sorrowful: the stronger and deeper the bonds are, the
more is it felt. To the apostles, Jesus was everything; it would be a bleak
and meaningless world without him. And he, too, felt all those deep
emotions that men feel at parting; no one ever had loved with such an
intense and pure love, or expressed it so tenderly as Jesus did at this
He begins with the imagery of a journey, because that was how the apostles
were visualising his ‘going away.’ He describes his destination as a house;
not a private residence, but a great palace with ‘many dwelling-places’
(like the temple, his ‘Father’s house’ on earth, with its many buildings);
he is going to make it ready for them, so that they can all be together,
‘at home with the Lord’ (2 Cor. 5: 8). The apostles are like children who
see with the imagination, not with the mind: Thomas asks for a road map,
and Philip for a picture of the Father. They have both, seated there in the
room with them; Jesus himself is both the road, and the journey’s end
(‘the way, truth and life’). In one sentence he sums up the essence of
Christianity: he himself is the object of faith, because he is God: to possess
him is to possess ‘truth and life.’ To do that they must imitate him; he
himself is their model.
The Gospel Story by R. Cox
CYM Publications 1950)
Some Reflections on the Text
Part One: Jesus Comforts His Disciples.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God;
have faith also in me.
Our reading, as has been explained, is an early portion of our Lord’s last discourse with His chosen Apostles. He has just mentioned something profoundly disturbing to Him:
“One of you will betray me.”
Then, after Judas had left their company, Jesus goes on to give them, “a new commandment”. There is a lot for them to take in — too much, in fact, to process and fully understand at that moment. Poor Peter is perplexed at being told, “before sunrise, you will disown me three times”. In fact, one way or another, they are all going to display great weaknesses.
Our Lord therefore turns now to a very emphatic affirmation of all those in His presence. He does this in the style of Moses farewelling his people, as his death drew near. It is helpful to compare some of the words and ideas both Moses and our Lord use, e.g. Deuteronomy 31: 7 — 8 and the following chapters. St. John portrays Jesus as the New Moses drawing from the Torah, the Books of Moses.
Jesus makes it very clear in this and the following verses that His departure will not be abandonment.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there
were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a
place for you?
The scholars explain how complex the original text is. But it is clear that Jesus here emphasises three major points about His Heavenly abode:
• There is room for all — not only the disciples present but the multitude
Jesus will reach through them. Our Lord emphasises God’s generosity
• It is a permanent dwelling place. It is to be their home! It is where they
are to belong for eternity, by the side of Christ.
• They should never have any doubt about it.
Our Lord then lets it be known He is going to prepare each person’s place. It is His way of implying, in fact, that He will prepare each person to take up just such an abode.
Our Lord concludes this short, three verse message of comfort to His disciples with:
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again
and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.
Note that the word “if” in the Greek text carries the meaning “when“, as is often the case in colloquial English. The original Greek has “I am coming back,” meaning, “I will come back,” to emphasise the certainty of the return of Jesus for his disciples. The same word is used in Revelation 22: 20 thus preparing the way for his disciples to realise they are to be ready.
It is good to keep in mind that there are several ways the Scriptures talk of Jesus coming back again: e.g.
• after His Resurrection;
• at the coming of the Holy Spirit;
• at the end of time — called, in Greek, the Parousia.
We can, quite properly, allow each of these to impact on us as we read any part of the Gospels. However in this particular passage, the majority of scholars assure us the primary reference to our Lord’s coming back, is to His Great Return at the consummation of the ages.
For now Jesus is focussing on preparation for eternal life in His Presence: with all its potential applications. To help us, Jesus gives an extremely simple yet beautiful idea of heaven. It is being ever with the Lord. Whatever else we see or do not see, in heaven, we shall see Christ the Lord. Whatever kind of place, we might imagine, it is a place where Christ dwells. That, and nowhere else, is to be our home!
Part 2: Jesus — the Way to the Father
Our Lord knows His Apostles very thoroughly. It is time to lift their sights higher and He makes a comment, knowing He will get a distinct response from Thomas.
“Where (I) am going you know the way.”
To this Thomas replies without delay:
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you
are going; how can we know the way?”
Just what Jesus wanted to hear!
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
In fact, remarks Jesus, if you wish to take up residence in the dwelling place I will prepare for you — if you wish to be truly members of God’s Household, of His Family, there is only one way! You must undergo the transformation which comes through following me, through both my humiliation and triumph.
Still responding to Thomas, yet really speaking to each of them, Jesus extends His “understudies” (His Talmidim), further, and adds another challenge.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
This is too much for Phillip who responds as quickly as did Thomas a moment before:
Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that
will be enough for us.”
Now Phillip gets a little “attention”, which continues at least till verse 11. Our Lord Jesus loves the open honesty of His disciples, and likes to unfold His teaching, step by step, to match their pondering, their questioning, even their slowness.
Verse 9 — 11
In the reaction to Phillip’s request, Jesus seizes the opportunity to express some key ideas.
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and
you still do not know me, Philip? 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 speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
There are three emphatic disclosures:
• “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
• “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Meaning we are all one).
• “The words I say to you I do not speak as from myself; it is
the Father living in me, who is doing this work” (JB)
The meaning behind these statements is clear (with the help of James McPollin, SJ):
■ Jesus is the “way” to the Father because He is in communion with him.
■ To contemplate Jesus with the eyes of faith is to see the Father.
■ His words are the Father’s voice; His works are a manifestation of the
Our Lord had laid the necessary foundation to now proclaim a startling and powerful truth to His close companions.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do
the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
This verse opens in old translations of the Bible with the traditional formula “Verily, verily I say unto thee.” In other words, He gives a clear signal that this statement is to be taken very seriously indeed. We will often hear this verse used by the ambitious campaigner as part of an arsenal of Biblical quotations to call down great miracles and show the power of God in their ministry. Such use would be another modern-day, tragic distortion of our Lord’s teaching. In this verse Jesus does not mean that the disciples will perform more outstanding miracles than He did. Their works will be greater because they will not be limited by time and geography as in the case of our Lord. When He goes to the Father, His help will be available to His disciples in all parts of the world at all times.
Power would continue to flow from Him, though now through His appointed (i.e. chosen) disciples. In this way He would continue to forgive, to heal, to sanctify and to comfort. And, let it be noted, these things will, in due course, be carried out, in varying combinations, by ordinary members of Christ’s Body, the Church according to their vocation, — not by self-styled, mega-church evangelists claiming “special anointings”.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father
may be glorified in the Son.
Many of us will have been sent on “guilt trips” by those who tell us God has not answered our prayers because we didn’t have enough faith! The above verse must surely be one of the most abused in all Scripture. The simplistic and uninformed interpretation of it has given rise to much counterfeit religion based on a narrow selection of Sacred Scripture. But God’s Word should never be cheapened.
It cannot be denied that some, claiming to be Christians, have designed man-made religious schemes often to serve personal agendas. Then by force of numbers they set about pressuring God to approve what they seek — in other words, to conform. This occurs in contemporary Christianity as it has done in the past!
In verse 13 above Jesus is not referring to irresponsible prayer, saying, “whatever you ask,” because in the same breath he adds, words to the effect “so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.” Unless a request in prayer will bring glory to the Father, we should not even be entertaining this idea. When we are truly united with our Lord, our prayer and good works are an integral part of Christ’s own ministry and thus give glory to the Father. Is not this a breathtaking thought: all of us, wherever the Lord places us, are a full, essential, and definite part of the offering which Jesus, every moment of every day, gives to the honour and glory of God the Father!
Jesus repeats the same idea to round off this unit of teaching:
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.
The same provisos apply as for verses 12 and 13. When our requests to God are intended to conform to His holy will, then they may be granted, and God will be glorified. To ask in the name of Jesus is, of course, to be part of His family name — to be a member of His family, His household. That is what this passage has been all about.
In our passage, the disciples present with our Lord are being prepared for future service. They are also being strengthened to witness His imminent arrest, and, worse, His execution: the cruelest the Romans could find for the Jews, whom they despised. If we (quite reasonably) find a short portion of 14 verses to be difficult to grasp fully, how hard it must have been for our Lord’s friends who had to pay attention to Jesus while He delivered what takes up five chapters in our written record (St. John’s Gospel, Chapters 13 to 17).
Even just our text of 14: 1 — 14 is full of amazing instruction, with every few verses being a goldmine of understanding which our Lord wants His Church, through these faithful servants, to take hold of and treasure as the patrimony He is bequeathing them.
It warms our hearts to reflect on the setting and the links Jesus gently makes with the departure of Moses from this world. That ancient champion of the Faith had proclaimed the Word of the Lord as no other was to do, until the very embodiment of it, Jesus Christ the Word of God, came upon the scene.
Yeshua, Jesus, the New Moses, has throughout His three year ministry given an unfolding testimony of His Union with God. “The Father and I are One.” (John 10: 30).
With all His might, with every breath, word, and action Jesus faithfully upheld the proclamation of God through Moses, His instrument:
“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is One.”
This can be translated in Hebrew tradition, also as:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, is the Lord alone!”
It all means the same: worship the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and no other, ever!”
Just as Jesus Messiah is one with the Father, so He increasingly drives home that He has called us to be one with Him. How could He be more emphatic than to insist we are members of His Household! How more intimate could He have us be, than to dwell with Him together for eternity! How far does He have to go to get into our heads that, in Him, we are the Family of God! There are no secrets in families! There is nothing to hide!
Nowhere, in all written records, is there any outpouring of such a loving heart pleading for us to respond and have total faith in Him. Nowhere is any offer ever made like this declaration, that the whole of God’s life, love and intimacy are to be ours to enjoy for eternity.
What so often escapes us is that through His Son, God the Father is not just offering this privilege to us: He is begging us to accept His promise of the closest family ties. Nothing, He intimates, if we will listen to Him, will bring Him such joy, happiness, pleasure and indescribable delight, as our acceptance of His proposal.
The question is — do we actually hear that? And if we do, how can we, in our own small way, take steps to make sure the rest of the world does, as well! There lies an exciting challenge.
Follow me. I am the way and the truth and the life. Without the way
The Imitation of Christ,
May our loving God be pleased by our response to Him.
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Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so, remain
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
5th Sunday of Easter Year A St. John 14: 1 — 14
1. Jesus said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” Here and elsewhere our
2. Jesus is very emphatic that He has gone to His Father’s House to prepare the way
# Messiah — (At our baptism we were “Christed”, sanctified in His Name.)
Somewhere, sometime, somehow our prayers will be answered. That is all we
Let us pray for one another and thus help one another not to become despondent
John 14: 1 — 14
5th Sunday After Easter Year A
1 1 2 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in
2 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If
3 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back
4 Where (I) am going you know the way.”4
5 Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth 5 and the
7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father. 6
8 Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, 7 and that
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
12 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do
13 And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the
14 If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.
2  You have faith: could also be imperative: “Have faith.”
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised