May 7, 2023
Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)
Readings for Today
Jesus said to his disciples: “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?” John 14:1–2
These consoling and encouraging words, spoken by Jesus to the Apostles at the Last Supper, come immediately after Judas left to betray Jesus and after Jesus told Peter, in the presence of the others, that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed. As a result, the Twelve (now Eleven) would have been discouraged, especially Peter. Jesus senses this and says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”
Peter was told that he would soon commit a grave sin against Jesus. As we are later told, as soon as Peter committed these sins, he went out and wept bitterly. Perhaps, as he did, he would have recalled Jesus’ words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled…”
Being tempted toward sin can be discouraging. But that can turn into a good thing. If we are not affected by our temptations, then we lack love for God. And if we give into those temptations and fail to experience sorrow, this is even worse. However, discouragement over our sins cannot remain; it must turn into its opposite, the virtue of hope. Hope will result from sin only when we hear and understand Jesus’ promise, seen above.
Jesus not only tells the disciples not to be troubled, He also tells them why. Jesus promises them He will prepare a place for them in Heaven and will come to take them to that place in His Father’s House, despite their failings. By believing, Peter and the other apostles will be able to dispel the initial discouragement they feel over their failings and turn back to God with the anticipation of Heaven.
Do you get discouraged by your sin? Begin by calling to mind any sin that you regularly struggle with. Habitual sin, especially, will lead to either sorrow, repentance and hope, or to a discouragement that ends in despair and the abandonment of virtue. Like Saint Peter, we must strive to weep bitterly over our sins. We must let our sins, and the temptation toward despair, become a motivation to regain hope, courage, and determination. This will only be possible if we always hear Jesus say to us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled…” We must sense His compassion and tenderness and allow that love to fill us with confidence that we will one day overcome all sin and be welcomed into the Father’s House.
Reflect, today, upon any sin with which you regularly struggle. As you do, consider whether your discouragement leads to despair or hope. Hope does not come from your ability to overcome sin on your own. It comes from the compassion of our Lord and His promise to redeem you. If you do have a troubled heart, that is good. It is the starting point for hope. Allow Jesus to lift your troubled heart and to point your eyes to Heaven.
Most compassionate Lord, though I am a sinner, You speak to me with tenderness and call me to repent so that I will always have hope in Heaven. Please give me a true and holy sorrow for my sins and help me to always turn back to You so that You will one day lead me to the fullness of the Father’s House. Jesus, I trust in You.