The feast of the Ascension is just a week away. I thought it fitting at this juncture to anticipate its celebration.
As we look forward, we turn to the daily gospel readings. Since last Sunday, we have been reading from John 14 and will stay in John through chapter 15 until the day before the Ascension where we briefly visit chapter 16. (The only exception to this pattern is on May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of Mary where we read from Luke 1.)
What distinguishes these chapters in the gospel of John? In them, Jesus give us His “Last Supper Discourse”. It does seem strange, though, that we would read from a Lenten themed gospel at the end of the Easter season. It is, however, entirely fitting.
We know them well, even if we know not the specific chapter and verse: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God; have faith also in me.” (Jn 14:1) “I go to prepare a place for you.” (Jn 14:3) “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6) “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) “I will not leave you orphans.” (Jn 14:18) “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:26) “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” (Jn 15:9) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13)
With these words, Jesus prepares his apostles for His departure. On that last night, Jesus knows what lies ahead. He will leave them physically, but they will not be alone. The Father will send the Spirit to them to fortify and sustain them for what lies ahead. Jesus knows they will need it. His love compels Him to prepare his apostles for His departure. His love encourages Him to give them hope as He anticipates their grief.
Over the next week, as you look ahead, I encourage you to drink in the words of Jesus in these 2 chapters of John. Take to heart His words, and when He says, “You,” insert your name, because these words are meant for us as much as they were meant for the apostles on that original day. Prepare for His departure and hope in His promises.
Alleluia! Alleluia! He is Risen! Anne