“Grief has filled your hearts” – Jesus is acknowledging the “elephant in the room” that none of the others can even bring themselves to articulate. This Last Supper has been filled with a lot of intense emotions: – there’s been incredible intimacy as Jesus washed their feet and underscored to the apostles as He institutes the Eucharist and Holy Orders that selfless, sacrificial, servant leadership was a foundation to those sacraments. – there’s disbelief and confusion with the accurate predictions of betrayal, denial and failure – which probably seemed as impossible as were Jesus’ dire predictions of what would happen to Him on Good Friday… – and now there is this sense of loneliness, or even worse, a sense of abandonment. Things are going to rapidly and dramatically change… Jesus’ has been preparing them for this but He knows that they still aren’t able to see, to know, to understand. While Jesus probably didn’t expect that they would – He is pained seeing their pain at that very moment and with what is about to come… “grief has filled your hearts.”
Psychologists will tell you that, feelings are important… one of the worst things a person can do for their mental health is deny their feelings – and one of the worst things we can do to someone else is to diminish or to ignore their feelings. Because feelings can be so powerful in our understanding of things, how we relate to others, how we respond to situations. Particularly a powerful emotion like grief. Anyone who’s experienced grief knows how debilitating it can be. But something hopefully we learn as we go through a variety of feelings, as we emerge with a deeper emotional maturity is that feelings are important but they don’t tell the entire story.
Which is what makes Jesus’ words so much more powerful. Yes He is being direct and honest with these His chosen ones – He sees, and lovingly acknowledges what they are feeling (while selflessly putting aside His own grief) And speaks words that give life to Hope – not a false hope like “I wish this won’t happen” or “Maybe it won’t happen” “Maybe it won’t be as bad as Jesus is predicting” – No He’s been upfront and honest – yes you will endure really really bad things and it will look like all is lost, it will seem like the world is collapsing around you, it will feel like this is the end.
But it’s not. And that’s where Jesus reveals that our Faith is strengthened when we can acknowledge those feelings – but not give into them. That will be the great difference between Judas and the others. With the exception of John who will remain with Jesus to His death, – Peter will deny Him, the other 10 will flee. So they’re all going to feel the weight of failure, despair, disappointment, fear… and far worse grief then they are experiencing in that upper room. Judas will give into those feelings of despair – it will consume him. The others don’t. They might not have begun to fathom what their faith really meant to them in the midst of the storm – we can only imagine the waves of intense emotion they felt Good Friday night, Holy Saturday.
But that faith which seemed lost was still there. Somewhere deep within those heavy hearts that glimmer remained – that same Jesus who first called them… that same Jesus who performed miracles, healed countless numbers all as signs that His mercy, His forgiveness, His message – they remembered those things, they remembered those feelings too. As distant memories as they must have been, the heart of faith remembered and was able to override those present feelings and still believed.
That is one of the gifts that the Holy Spirit, this advocate that Jesus keeps speaking of will bring to Jesus’ disciples of every age and time since. The gift of the Holy Spirit which makes our faith alive and active. It’s the Holy Spirit who makes a historic event from 2,000 years ago real and present in our day and age… It’s He who makes these words of scripture life-giving and transformational here and now. It is the Holy Spirit’s continued presence among us and within us that helps us to deal with whatever complex and varied feelings we’re experiencing and still know the truth that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. In the face of whatever varied or mixed feelings we are encountering, as people of faith we can remain steadfast, certain and confident as we pray Come Holy Spirit…