Jesus’ Words of Encouragement – Br. David Allen
This day in the Christian Year marks the day after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven when the Disciples knew that Jesus was no longer with them in the way that he had been.
Today’s Gospel is a flash-back to Jesus preparing his Disciples for that time when he would no longer be with them physically. After speaking of pain and joy Jesus said to his Disciples; “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (Jn 16:22)
How did he get the knowledge of pain and joy he showed his disciples? Jesus had grown up in an ordinary Palestinian house of one or two rooms. In those surroundings he would have been familiar with the pains of women in childbirth, and the joy of a new life being born into this world; and with the sadness of the partings brought by death. Nowadays such things take place in hospitals or clinics.
Jesus knew that the time was coming when he would be separated from his disciples. Their lives would change as they took up the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel Message, the Good News of Salvation and Everlasting Life.
Ultimately they would come to the joy of new life in heaven, as Jesus promised them.
Our lives also change as we go through different periods in our lives. There may be times when we face the sadness of leaving one part of life to enter a new and different experience. Some of us here have been called to monastic vows, and others are following the path to which God has called them. It is still possible to have feelings of sadness and face disappointments. Nevertheless, in my experience, these times are usually followed by compensations that are satisfying and joyful.
The challenge of new responsibilities can be a time of refreshment and new joy. Faith plays an important role in this.
The way in which faith helps us can be seen in part of a hymn by Thomas Aquinas:
Faith our outward sense befriending,
Makes our inward vision clear. [Repeat]
(Hymnal 1982, No. 329-30, Tantum Ergo)
Jesus’ words of encouragement to his disciples gave them strength to face the changes that came in their lives.
You, also, can take Jesus’ words of encouragement, or words like them, to help you face changes; disappointment, sadness, or joy in your life.
Please support the Brothers work.
The brothers of SSJE rely on the inspired kindness of friends to sustain our life and our work. We are grateful for the prayers and support provided to us.
This homily befits a man who knew that his life, too, was about to change. Brother David was a remarkable man. He wrote simply and humbly. It was always such a joy to open the email and see that the word for the day was coming from that dear, sweet man. May he rest in peace in heaven.
It was totally new to me to realize how Jesus grew up viscerally experiencing within the limited confines of a Nazareth home all the elemental events—birth, sickness, death—so close at hand, and what that would have meant to him in companioning others in their big and sometimes painful life-changing moments. It affects the way I now companion others, and how I often need that intimate, real and palpable companionship myself.
“Faith our outward sense befriending,
Makes our inward vision clear.”
I’m holding this in my heart as a promise today as I face changes and challenges that I trust will bring joy, purpose, and satisfaction, all according to God’s will.
Dear Br. David, your post today is a real blessing in my life. I have spent the last 35 years deeply involved in expressing my gift of music as a part of my faith, and as the voice started to go, I was stunned at how bereft I felt. I am fortune in that my Pastor, Mother Sara, has helped me to see that the loss of my music ministry does not mean that God has no further use for me, but that I can recognize the grief involved, and know that God still has plenty of ways for me to serve. So, thank you again so much for your reflections.
This is such a good sermon, Br. David. How true it is that joy follows trying times if we
continue to lean on Him. One verse says that sorrow might come at night, but joy
comes in the morning. I have just returned home after a heart procedure. The Lord was
with me throughout the experience. May the Lord bless and keep you in His care.
Four months later and I pray you are healing well.
Br. David, I so very much appreciate your words today. This past week has been one of challenges, disappointments, and some sadness for me. I have been working on letting go of my ego—which is clearly getting in the way—and holding onto the very promise you proclaim in your sermon: that Jesus’ words of encouragement and his presence in my life can give me the strength to face these challenges.
This touches me during this time of Covid, when , at least for me, there is so much grief to work through- grief associated with accepting that life as we knew it has been irrevocably altered. And yet go on we must into our new life. There have been many gifts that have appeared with the changes, but thanks for the reminder that with faith, and God’s befriending, a new vision will be made clear. And the previous life blesses the new. Thank you Br David