John 16: 29-33
29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.
30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.
31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?
32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
The disciples enthusiastically acknowledge the divinity of Jesus, proved to them in these Bible verses by Jesus’ knowledge of their thoughts, which only God could know. Jesus has indeed spoken plainly to the disciples. Now it may be with some reproachfulness that he asks them: ‘Do ye now believe?’ They have spent such time with Jesus, have witnessed signs and miracles, and now they accept his teachings and express their faith in him.
Jesus in these verses additionally points to the fragility of the disciples’ faith in him. For the moment, they are enthusiastic in their declaration of faith, but very soon they will abandon Jesus, when he is given over into the hands of his enemies. Our faith must be firmer than this, as we confront life’s difficulties and may at times struggle to see God at work in the world and in society. Our faith must be strong as we communicate God’s love to other people, through simple acts of kindness as well as through sharing, explicitly, our Christianity. Our faith must be strong when we suffer, and when our offerings to others are rebuffed.
Christ’s words are an example to us of how we should be when the world seems to flee from us, leaving us feeling alone. Christ will, in truth, not be alone, even when he is at his most physically abject through the course of his Passion. He knows that the Father is with him. This is both perfect knowledge and perfect faith. In a similar way, when we find we are struggling, God is with us.
Christ’s words, then, are for our time. We do indeed face tribulations. The world, contemporary society, does not in so many ways tend toward faith, and there is much that is actively opposed to faith. There are times when we may look at our society and find our love and faith and hope draining from us, confronted, as we may feel ourselves to be, by a spiritual desert. But we must blink and look again. The world, though often hostile, is seeded with love and faith and hope, sometimes most obviously, at other times when we take just a little care to scratch the surface of our impressions of other people, and so to discover the good that shines within. Christ has overcome the world.
‘As light strikes the eyes of a man who comes out of darkness into the sunshine and enables him to see clearly things he could not discern before, so light floods the soul of the man counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables him to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.’ St Cyril of Jerusalem