Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

In his farewell to his disciples, his consoling words to them and to us are beautiful:

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
[John 14:1]

SadIt is beautiful that Jesus anticipates that what we will face in this life, as his believers, will likely be troubling. Each and every one of us can name a lot of things that are weighing on our hearts these days. Small things and really big things tend to pile up and deeply affect us and the choices we make. These troubling challenges can disturb our relationships. Since all grief is connected, they can shake loose other griefs and sadnesses in our lives - some of which had been buried for a long time.

Often these troubling feelings challenge our faith as well. At the very least, our sadness can make it difficult for us to hear the Good News Jesus' resurrection brings us.

Jesus invites us to have faith in God and in him. He doesn't say that lightly. He knows. He understands what we are facing. Because he knows and understands, he knows that we need what he has won for us. I might be tempted to fight it off or to resist it in some way. My sadness can become my home, and, at times, it can become my identity. We can even diminish our ability to perceive the gift by saying, "He's offering me nothing in this world; only future happiness. I'm overwhelmed now!"

Jesus is offering us a peace nothing else can offer us. One of the Lent prayers says that God's graces allow us to live in this passing world with our hearts set on the world that will never end.

How does eternal life offer us a peace and strength now? It offers us a vision of the rest of the story - the whole story. When we believe that death - in all its forms - is just a scarecrow, then we grow in courage. We are offered the courage, not only to face huge challenges and tremendous losses in this life, but we can embrace a courage which offers us the ability to love boldly, to give our lives away in service for and with others. We can, as Pope Francis urged the youth at World Youth day, "row against the current" of our culture. We can be unafraid to be advocates for those who are not very popular in our world. Our world becomes bigger, our concerns move much more outside of ourselves. We appreciate the meaning of Jesus' promise: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." [Matthew 16:25] The joy of finding our life, finding who we are, finding out clearly what the outcome is, and where we are going, is tremendously freeing.

Our problems don't go away. The pain of those we love is still there. The discouraging reality we must face is still a reality. What changes is the meaning it all has. It can all be touched by the healing transformation that comes from his death and resurrection. And the picture, the context of it all, becomes so much bigger. We have hope. Death can be redeemed. All deaths. All losses. All disappointments. All sin.

Jesus has prepared a place for us to celebrate together for all eternity. We can ask for the grace these days to let our hearts be open to the Good News, to be transformed by its joy, and to share this faith with the world. At that point, we can begin to feel and look like resurrection people, who know the meaning and the outcome of our life in Jesus. Alleluia!

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