“Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
Jesus knows the hearts of his disciples. When he assures them that their future is, indeed, a hopeful one, and promises them places in his Father’s house, Philip and Thomas have questions. How can we know the way? Can you show us the Father? Please, can you give us some sense of direction? Their hearts are troubled.
I, too, have questions. Where is God in the midst of this pandemic? What is the path forward? Can I have some concrete steps forward?
The ways that I typically respond to God’s “call to serve at table” have been altered. Here at Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community in Appalachia, volunteer groups have canceled their service-learning trips, community members can no longer come over for food and fellowship, and life itself seems to have transformed into something unrecognizable. When we do go out, masks cover our smiles to strangers at the grocery store, social distancing inhibits conversation in the checkout line. But this Gospel reading reminds us that relationship with God is an invitation to live transformed by radical hope.
When Jesus says “do not let your hearts be troubled,” he does not force false optimism in the face of a suffering world—this is because he does not simply give us instructions to cease worrying. He gives us a reason for hope.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” is Jesus’ response to our questions. Not the set of directions I might have been hoping for, but nonetheless an answer which elicits an active response. He beckons us into a relationship with the power to transform our ways of being in the world. He offers us the truth of the promise of renewal. He invites us to life.
Molly Sutter is a caretaker at Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community in Appalachia that transforms lives through service with the local community and the teaching of sustainable practices. She currently serves as catechetical coordinator and cares for the community’s gardens and animals. She holds a degree in environmental studies, education, and psychology from Goucher College in Towson, MD.