Our Gospel passage this week comes from John, Chapter 14: 1–14
The lectionary readings for this Sunday are full of instructions for the disciples about how to live as Jesus taught without his physical presence in their midst, and serve as a good guide for us, his disciples, too. Our Gospel reading is part of the Johannine Farewell Discourse of Jesus, preparing believers to consider not only his journey through death to life, but their own. This chapter, in particular, provides assurance that we will have an ongoing relationship with Jesus not separated by death. And it serves as a poignant message as we remember the loss of two of our parish family members this week. John speaks of believing almost exclusively not as something to which one agrees inwardly, but as an outward and active commitment to a person, the person being Jesus. Birth and death are the bookends of a shelf full of stories of transformation; birth and death are repeating cycles in the narrative of our lives. However, in these moments, even as Christ is leading us as our Good Shepherd, we often echo Thomas in asking how we can know the way if we do not know where God is going; with Philip we claim that we will be satisfied if we can just see. The disciples want to cling to the perceived safe location – they want to know where Jesus is going and how to go there with him. Throughout the Gospel, however, location is used as a metaphor for the intimacy of a close relationship. The sheep are kept close to the shepherd; Jesus is proximal to the heart of God. They, and us, will not be forgotten. The opening command of our Gospel is not just an effective statement but it is a command to stand firm, even when our hearts abandon us, for The Comforter is coming to cure our diseased hearts and help us stand firm in the coming transformation. Let us ask ourselves the question: What would free our hearts from being troubled? The world has a multitude of answers. Jesus has only one: Believe in God, believe also in me.