“And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1,14) What wonderful joy it must have been for the disciples of Jesus to experience the Incarnate Word of God, teaching, healing, guiding, revealing and living among them. There was a power in this Word to speak to the heart and to bring light into the darkness. The Word, Jesus, was full of life and so were his teachings and works. While Jesus was with the disciples they were able to be near to him and to experience the divine life that flowed through him. Jesus, the Incarnate Word, had a gift to give that no other person could ever give. He had the gift of life, full and abundant and eternal life. In the world, life could be a burden. Life could be difficult, confusing, crazy, inconsistent and even at times empty and meaningless, but in the presence of the Word Incarnate, life was full of meaning and purpose. Everything seemed to make sense and to be right and to be moving toward a fulfillment and a newness. When some disciples left the company of Jesus, Peter knew that there was nowhere else to go: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn 6,68f) When two of the disciples of Jesus met him on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection they experienced the power that his words had of speaking deeply to their hearts: “Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scripture to us?”” (Lk 24,32) The woman at the well in Samaria was amazed at the words that Jesus shared with her: “Come see a man who told me everything I have done.” (Jn 4,29) Obviously, she had never been touched so deeply by any other words that had ever been spoken to her.
In the letter of John to the Church, John proclaims: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.” (1Jn 1,1-4) Fellowship with Jesus was pure and complete joy for his disciples. It is understandable how troubling to the heart it was when Jesus shared with his disciples, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.” (Jn 13,33) In that moment it must have seemed that everything was a loss. Without the physical presence of Jesus, the Incarnate Word, there would be no one to teach them, to give them life and to guide them on the way to the kingdom. To them, in that moment, life seemed so much less if Jesus was not there to be with them. Jesus had to reassure his disciples that his leaving them did not mean less life but that it would mean much, much more life. The physical presence of Jesus allowed the disciples to see and experience the truth of eternal life but now their knowing had to pass beyond seeing and into believing. Jesus would no longer be in the world but he would be present deep within them.
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.” (Jn 14,16-19) The Advocate will teach the disciples everything and lead them into the fullness of joy. The interior knowledge of the truth in faith is more certain and persistent than any other way of knowing. Jesus will proclaim to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (Jn 20,29) Jesus leaves his disciples with words of peace: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.” (Jn 14,28f)
John will advise us in his letter to the Church, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.” What we see is passing away, what we believe is eternal. How much deeper is the love that the Father gives us through his Spirit that dwells within us and is with us always!