Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read John 14:1–12
Spring has certainly sprung here in Pennsylvania. The forsythia, tulips, and daffodils are in full bloom. And so is the pollen count. While my sinuses may not enjoy this season, my heart and soul desire to soak it all in. The vibrant colors, the warmer weather, and the buds breaking open on the trees all point to this season of life, a season where transformation happens right before our eyes.
And yet it’s in this season that I find myself feeling stuck.
I feel like I’m hovering in this tension between immersing myself in the beauty, newness, and joy of our Easter season while also tiptoeing dangerously close to the heaviness of some real brokenness that feels overwhelming, thick, and murky. The darkness of this world and the suffering that we walk through often leave us full of doubts, deep sorrow, and disappointments, stuck in a tomb that echoes with our own questions, confusion, anger, and despair.
My favorite question is, “Why? Why now? Why this suffering? Why haven’t I seen the restoration yet? Why am I still struggling?" I find myself questioning God’s will, posing well-thought-out arguments rationalizing my proposed timeline of healing and restoration and how this timeline works far better than His. Reading this week’s gospel, I find comfort in the apostles’ own struggle with questions and doubts.
The setting is the night of the Last Supper. The apostles are reeling not only from having just had their feet washed by our Lord but also from receiving some pretty shocking news. Jesus had shared that He would only be with them for a little while longer (John 13:33), that someone among them would actually be the one to betray Jesus (John 13:21), and that Peter—dear Peter—would deny even knowing our Lord (John 13:38).
Our gospel passage picks up right after these revelations, with Jesus’ words to His friends: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). But we find in the next few verses that it’s obvious the apostles’ hearts are troubled. While they might have journeyed with Jesus these last three years, they still did not quite comprehend what His revelations meant for them. They had questions and doubts. They were worried and uncertain.
Thomas—are we surprised—pipes up first, calling out his own doubts and lack of understanding: what is this “way,” and will he know it? Phillip chimes in with a suggestion that if Jesus could just show them the Father, he’d feel better about everything, more certain. We may scoff at these questions asked by men that we judge should have known better. Hadn’t they witnessed the paralyzed man pick up his mat and walk? Weren’t they present at the tomb when Lazarus walked out, burial cloth and all? They ate from the baskets of multiplied fish and bread, right? How is it that they are still questioning?
Notice what Jesus did not do in response to their questions. He did not humiliate them or embarrass them for their lack of understanding. He didn’t banish them from his friend group because they didn’t live up to His expectations. He didn’t turn away from them in disgust.
What He did was listen and respond with love. He welcomed their questions and doubts. He consoled them and offered them comfort by giving them instructions, instructions that we are meant to follow today.
His solution for anything that might be troubling our hearts—be it questions, doubts, a desire for explanation, or clarity—is radical faith and trust in Him. “You have faith in God; have faith also in me” (John 14:1).
Jesus knew what was coming and what would happen to Him. He knew the toll that this ordeal would have on His friends. He also knew what would be expected of them and what He would ultimately commission them to do. He is instructing them to hold fast to what they know: who Jesus is, “If you know me, you know the Father” (John 14:7), the truth of what Jesus has said, “the words that I speak to you, I do not speak on my own” (John 14:10), and the promises that Jesus has made of a new and eternal life “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 14:3).
The enemy is relentless in his desire to call us back to the darkness, tempting us to remain stuck in very powerful emotions that cause us to question God’s faithfulness and presence. However, Jesus is also relentless in His pursuit of our hearts. Just as Jesus didn’t want His friends staying by the empty tomb on Easter morning, waiting, questioning, doubting, and grieving, He doesn’t want us to remain in darkness, stuck in the tomb of whatever might be causing us distress.
Theologian Peter Kreeft writes, “Our faith assures us that God is in control. Faith has authority over feelings.” Whatever is troubling our hearts, whatever is breaking our hearts, whatever suffering burdens our hearts is not more powerful than Jesus Christ.
Jesus is reminding us that it is our faith in Him that strengthens our resolve and fortifies our will to say no to sin, to oppose the desire to numb out from difficult feelings, and to reject the lie that we are all alone. It is our faith and belief in Jesus that keeps us running the race set out for us through the darkness of this world. Jesus desires that we hold fast to our faith in Him and the belief that light will overcome the darkness (John 1:5), that the power of the resurrection lives in us (Ephesians 3:20), and that this power is greater than any tomb of death or darkness (1 John 4:4). It is our faith in who Jesus is that will strip off every weight that slows us down, especially sin (Hebrews 12:1), so that we might press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward (Philippians 3:14).
“[He is] the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
What keeps us living in the joy and newness, the beauty and light of the Easter season? Exactly what Jesus tells us in this gospel passage.
Faith in Him.
Faith that He is the way through this fallen world.
Faith that His truth will bring us closer to the Father.
Faith that His victory over sin and death has bought for us eternal life.
What keeps us returning to Jesus with our questions and our doubts in times of trouble or suffering? Faith in Him. Not that Jesus has the answer, but that Jesus is the answer.
If you are walking the tightrope between heartache and joy, I want to encourage you to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and take your questions and your doubts directly to Him. Attend Mass and receive the Eucharist regularly, remembering His rescue mission to save you and make Himself present to you always. Seek reconciliation and confess your desire to trust more fully in His perfect timing so that His perfect will may be done.
With you on the journey,
Food for thought or journaling…
What troubles are on your heart today? What questions or emotions arise when you ponder what is on your heart?
Jesus, I believe in You. Reveal to me my areas of unbelief or lack of trust in You as the way, the truth, and the life. I declare Your authority over the tombs that remain in my heart. Jesus, I trust in You. Take care of everything. Amen.
 Kreeft, Peter. Food for the Soul. (Park Ridge, IL: Word on Fire, 2022), 341.