O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Risen, ascended Lord,
as we rejoice at your triumph,
fill your Church on earth with power and compassion,
that all who are estranged by sin
may find forgiveness and know your peace,
to the glory of God the Father.
Let God arise and let his enemies be scattered;
let those that hate him flee before him.
As the smoke vanishes, so may they vanish away;
as wax melts at the fire,
so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God;
let them make merry with gladness.
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
exalt him who rides on the clouds.
The Lord is his name; rejoice before him.
Father of the fatherless, defender of widows,
God in his holy habitation!
God gives the solitary a home
and brings forth prisoners to songs of welcome,
but the rebellious inhabit a burning desert.
Glory to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now
and shall be for ever. Amen.
The disciples said to Jesus, ‘Now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’
Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’
Jesus said to his disciples: Do you now believe?
How often have you tried to get a message across to someone and they just do not get what you are trying to say? Or how often has that same scenario worked the other way round? You have been the one who just does not understand what is being said to you.
Throughout his adult ministry, all the time he had been travelling with his chosen companions, Jesus had been sharing the good news of his coming into the totality of the human condition. Jesus had been teaching of a new and more intimate relationship with God; Jesus had been working miraculous signs; Jesus had been healing the sick. Alongside all of these overt demonstrations of his true divine nature, Jesus had been explaining how he was, and is, the fulfilment of God’s covenant with humanity. Jesus is the promised Messiah. But, his chosen companions, the disciples, had never quite got the message.
Today’s reading comes from John’s account of the Last Supper. Jesus has washed his disciples’ feet and he has given his new commandment of love. Jesus has revealed himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life, and he has promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. He has revealed the nature of his mission, and that of all who would follow him, by comparing himself with a vine that needs to be carefully pruned in order that the whole may flourish, and he has warned of the coming storm of hatred that will rain down upon his followers. And today, as this great discourse draws towards its conclusion, Jesus asks: Do you now believe? Jesus asks if they have finally connected with the message he has brought to earth.
We know that this moment in John’s gospel comes before Jesus’ final hours on earth. Jesus was offering his disciples a warning of what was just a few hours away. Jesus was also taking this last opportunity to hammer his message home, and to give hope for the imminent moments of despair.
Jesus’ prayer for his disciples is one of peace, peace with God and peace within themselves. Jesus wants us all to understand that, no matter how threatening the world and the actions of others may seem, he has conquered all. Jesus is the one who has brought us into the most intimate of relationships with his, and our, Father in heaven.
The disciples were about to witness the cruel end of Jesus’ earthly life. The world in which we live can seem just as unjust and lacking in compassion, but the love we are called to share in this world is the hope we have been given. By sharing the love we have received from Jesus we are bringing the totality of God’s existence into the tiny corner of the world we occupy. We are demonstrating that, yes, we do now believe!
Prayers of intercession
Let us pray to God, whose love brings victory out of suffering and death.
May the Church always have courage to preach the Gospel without fear. Grant to all Christian people perseverance in their calling and faithfulness to the truth that they have been taught.
Have mercy on a world where good is often met with evil and love with anger. Open the eyes of men and women everywhere, to see and follow the goodness around them. Bless those in authority and lead them into the way of peace.
Give us strength when faith is hard and brings us into conflict with others. Help us to witness by word and example to those among whom we live and work.
We pray for all who suffer persecution for the sake of the Gospel, and for all whose faith has alienated them from those who should be close to them. Give them courage in their affliction and soften the hearts of their persecutors.
We give thanks for all who have faithfully witnessed to the truth in this world. We pray that those who have suffered for their faith may find rest and eternal life in the realm where all tears are wiped away and there is no more pain.
We make our prayers in the name of Christ, in whom we may have peace.
Prayer for the week
forgive what we have been;
sanctify what we are;
and order what we shall be.
What we do not know, teach us;
what we do not have, give us;
what we are not, make us;
for Jesus Christ’s sake.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake,
all now mysterious shall be clear at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
his voice, who ruled them while he dwelt below.
Stille meine Wille, dein Jesus hilft siegen
Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel (1697–after 1768)
translated by Jane Laurie Borthwick (1813–1897)