Letter to Friends, no 81
On the evening of Holy Thursday Our Lord Jesus Christ had a long conversation with his Apostles which is known as the “Discourse after the Last Supper” (Jn 13:31-16, 31).
At the Last Supper, Jesus ordained his Apostles as priests and bishops and gave them communion for the first time. He told them about the betrayal of Judas, who went out into the night to accomplish his crime.
Jesus is at ease and can open his heart. He takes advantage of these moments of intimacy with his Apostles to prepare them for his forthcoming departure and the persecutions that will follow. In other words, he prepares them for his passion and gives them the necessary advice to properly go through it. Alas! They will not take this into account and the prophecy of Jesus will be realized: “You will be scattered, each in his own way, and you will leave me alone.”
As the passion of the Church unfolds before our eyes, it is useful to meditate on this discourse. At the hour when the shepherd is struck and the sheep are scattered, let us listen to the counsels - the instructions - of Jesus to go through this crisis while still remaining faithful.
Commentary of St. Thomas
St. Thomas Aquinas left a very fine commentary on the Gospel of St. John. Let us summarize briefly what concerns this discourse.
After an introduction (Jn 13: 31-38), where Jesus indicates the purpose of the passion (the glory of God restored by the perfect sacrifice of the cross) and the conditions for him to remain united (charity and humility) He confirms his disciples against two feelings that disturb them: the sadness provoked by his departure (chapter 14) and the fear of persecution (chapter 15).
His departure must not disturb them, for he will bring them three advantages:
- free access to the Father through Jesus, “the way” and the perfect image of the Father,
- the coming of the Paraclete,
- and His own return (in a new way).
The Paraclete will bring his gift: the perfect knowledge of God; And Jesus his: peace, His peace.
Then Jesus strengthens His Apostles against the fear of persecution, of which the solemn Passion Mass is the prelude. It is the magnificent allegory of the vine: Christians, branches or members of the Mystical Body, must be purified by suffering in order to bear fruit, not only fruits of holiness, but also fruits of the apostolate. The conditions for this purification and fructification to be fulfilled are: to receive the word of Jesus (faith purifies the intellect), prayer (for this work is supernatural) and especially the love of Jesus proved by the practice of his commandment.
Our Lord does not content himself with speaking of his Mystical Body, he wishes to make known to the Apostles the origin of persecutions: the world, enemy of Our Lord. The world is united by hatred, as the Church is by charity. The hatred of the world for the friends of Jesus is a motive of consolation: it makes them conformable to their master. Moreover, supported by the Holy Ghost, they will take the opportunity to witness, even to martyrdom if need be.
Chapter 16 adds some details about the two causes of trouble for the Apostles and their remedies. As for the persecutions, the Apostles will have to suffer not only pagans, but also Jews, who will drive them out of the synagogues and believe they will please God by putting them to death. As for the (sensible) absence of Jesus, the three Divine Persons will intervene to comfort: the Holy Ghost will convince the world of it’s sin, Jesus will bring a perfect (inner) joy, finally the Father will now listen favorably to any prayer made on behalf of Jesus, by those who love Jesus.
A veil of sadness passes over Jesus ‘face at the thought of the Apostles’ approaching defection, but he immediately promises them peace and encourages them: trust me, I have conquered the world.
Application to the Current Situation
In the passion of the Church, we must first of all persuade ourselves that God permits it only to obtain more glory (perhaps the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary promised to Fatima); We must also endeavor to remain in charity and humility, indispensable conditions for receiving the promised help.
Due to the crisis in the Church, we no longer benefit from the usual spiritual assistance, especially the ease of attending Mass and receiving the sacraments. We must take advantage of it to increase our inner life, the life of union with the three divine persons present in the soul in a state of grace. Let us plan daily meditation to better understand our Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, letting us guide through the Holy Ghost. Besides, we must be under the influence of this invisible guest of our soul (“you will know it, because it will remain with you, and it will be in you”) by following its impulses when it impels us to charity or sacrifice.
Finally, we must keep ourselves in the peace of Jesus, the fruit of order and justice, as defined by St. Augustine: serenity of mind (order in intelligence), tranquility of soul (in our passions), simplicity of the heart (will), concord with our neighbor and with God.
As for persecutions, since Jesus predicted to the Apostles that they would suffer from the Jews (which was particularly painful to them), we should not be surprised to suffer from the members of the Church, who have been subjected since the last Council to the ‘the influence of the world,’ in other words, the Counter-Church (Freemasonry, Communism, secret lodges setting up an anti-Christian globalism, etc).
The sufferings we endure on the part of the world and the privations we impose on ourselves to preserve us from its influence, will serve our sanctification, consoling the Immaculate Heart of Mary, saving sinners and, mysteriously, prepare the victory of Jesus and his Mother: “Have confidence, I have conquered the world. “