His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.”
This is an interesting little statement of Christ that clarifies something. “Do you now believe?” He asks. Do you really believe, or are you just saying that. It reminds us of St. John’s words when he writes, “let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
Let’s back up a bit. Jesus says “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”
The Father will answer the disciples’ prayer because He loves them. Why? Because they love and believe in Jesus. (And notice, Jesus doesn’t deny they believe in Him or love Him. But His question at the end of the Gospel, “Do you believe?” suggests their faith was not fully formed yet. Faith grows, and there is seedling faith and full-grown-fruit faith. Jesus teaches the seedling faith is still enough to found the statement, “for the Father Himself loves you.”)
In any event, based on the faith and love of the disciples for Jesus, the Father will answer their prayer. What prayer? And for what answer? Jesus simply puts it this way: Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Given this response, we have a hunch that what we pray for is the Holy Spirit, who delivers what Jesus has attained by sitting at God’s right hand. Yes, there is fullness of joy there, and that is communicated to the disciples, filling their faith. But the key point is, the joy is full! There is nothing lacking in it. There is no sadness, no sorrow, no lack of victorious joy.
The one who believes in and loves Jesus has this joy. If that is the case, why would the one who believes in Jesus run away from Him in time of tribulation or persecution? Didn’t Jesus say, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Don’t we have “cheer” (joy) in the midst of tribulation because Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has overcome the evils of the world and caused them to be only good for us? So what is there to fear? Christ’s perfect love casts out this fear, no?
So no, the disciples didn’t have the full-fruit-bearing faith yet. As Jesus pointed out, “you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone.” They would live by fear of the world. They loved Jesus in word, but not deed yet.
Most of us don’t have that full-fruit-bearing faith either. But how exciting to learn there is a sort of faith that is so filled with joy and “good cheer” that even the moments of tribulation are overcome by it. Nothing can take away that joy, or as Jesus says, “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” Or as Jesus says in today’s passage, in Him we can have peace
Yes, they have sorrow during this time of seedling faith, but after the resurrection (or maybe Pentecost), when the heart rejoices, no one will take away that joy. May this sort of faith come to full fruition in us. Again, what other way is there to live? To embrace the sorrow like Frederick Nietzsche would propose, laying the foundation for all the drama, angst, and emo behavior of our modern, narcissistic world?
Do people really like living that way? I think they do. But they don’t have to. There is a fullness of joy available, that Jesus provides, when faith comes to full fruition.