The Heart of Jesus in His Farewell Discourse
By Father J. Heyrman, S.J.
THE HEART OF JESUS IN HIS FAREWELL DISCOURSE
1. In His farewell discourse after the Supper, Jesus lays bare the most intimate feelings of His Heart. St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, had kept His Lord’s words in his heart, had pondered over them during long years, ever gaining a deeper insight into their meaning; finally, in his old age prompted by the Holy Ghost, he set them down in his Gospel. In this meditation we shall try to understand what Jesus gave us in this last conversation with His own, what He promised us, what He asked of us. Hence we shall come to realize that truly He loved us unto the end.
2. Petition: The grace to understand better the Heart of our Saviour, which “has made us partakers of His infinite riches”.
I. What Does Jesus Give Us?
He gives us peace. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). No one can give what he does not have; and therefore the world cannot give the peace which it does not possess. “And they healed the breach of the daughter of my people disgracefully saying peace, peace; and there was no peace” (Jer. 6:14). “For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 John 2:16). These are the never-failing sources of strife and discord among men.
Jesus gives us peace: At His cradle the angels sang, “Peace to men of good will”; and Zacharias prophesied that He would “direct our feet into the way of peace”. He is the “Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). He Himself is our Peace. Among the Jews the customary greeting was “Peace be to you” (Pax tecum). Coming from the lips of Jesus, these were not mere words: they issued from the depths of His Heart, in which dwells all the fullness of peace; and of this fullness He gives us generously. We must carefully preserve that peace and foster its growth around us. “And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
Jesus gives us joy: “That my joy may be in you” (John 15:11). His joy also is a joy that the world knows not and cannot give; for it is the result of true peace, a peace so secure that nothing on earth can disturb it. Here again we come face to face with that “gigantic secret of the Christian”, who may suffer trial and temptation, but ever remembers that his hope will not be disappointed.
Jesus gives us love: “That the love, where with thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). These are the concluding words of our Lord’s priestly prayer to His Father, imploring the Father to love us with the love with which He loves the Son. This is His parting gift. St. John is the only Evangelist who does not record the institution of the Eucharist: instead he has preserved for us the burning words spoken by Jesus after He had given them His Body and His Blood as a pledge of His Love, words that flowed straight from Christ’s Heart, “glowing furnace of charity”.
These three gifts of Jesus are also fruits of the Holy Ghost, for whose coming we are at present preparing our hearts. “But the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace” (Gal. 5:22).
II. What Does Jesus Promise Us?
“I will not leave you orphans” (John 14:18). He will send them an Advocate, a Consoler, “the Spirit of truth, who will teach them all truth” and who will abide with them.
But He also remains with them, not only through His Spirit, who will enlighten their minds, but sacramentally, whenever they do what He asked them to do “for a commemoration of Him”; truly will He be present with them, within them, and will be their food unto eternal life.
“And if you shall ask me anything in my name that I will do” (John 14:14).
All this Jesus promised to His Apostles when He bade them farewell; all this He promises to those who, through the ministry of the Apostles, will believe in Him.
He gives us Divine gifts, divine promises, coming straight from the Heart of Jesus, “full of goodness and love”.
III. What Does Jesus Ask of Us?
It all can be summed up in one word. “Abide in Me”. And we abide in Him when we observe His commandment that we “love one another as he has loved us” (John 13:34); and secondly, when we do what He bade us do in commemoration of Him namely when, with the whole Church, we offer Him to the Father and, partaking of His Flesh and His Blood, we become one with Him and with each other.
Prayer: Unto Thy Church, we beseech Thee, O Lord, do Thou graciously grant the gifts of unity and peace, which in the gifts offered are mystically signified, through our Lord (Secret, Corpus Christi).
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.
Ave Maria, piena di grazia, il Signore è con te. Tu sei benedetta fra le donne, e benedetto è il frutto del tuo seno, Gesú. Santa Maria, Madre di Dio, prega per noi peccatori, adesso e nell'ora della nostra morte. Amen.
Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grâce, Le Seigneur est avec vous. Vous êtes bénie entre toutes les femmes, et Jésus, le fruit de vos entrailles, est béni. Sainte Marie, Mère de Dieu, priez pour nous, pauvres pécheurs, maintenant et à l'heure de notre mort. Amen.
Gegrüßet seist du, Maria, voll der Gnade, der Herr ist mit dir. Du bist gebenedeit unter den Frauen, und gebenedeit ist die Frucht deines Leibes, Jesus. Heilige Maria, Mutter Gottes, bitte für uns Sünder jetzt und in der Stunde unseres Todes. Amen.