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!