One of the things exposed about us in the past few weeks is our vulnerability. We don’t like feeling that way. The unemployment rate is rising causing the fear of losing health insurance and paying the rent to leave us feeling very vulnerable. Wearing masks and continuing to social distance seems to be the best we can do for now to keep the pandemic at a further distance. We still feel vulnerable because we can’t do more to gain control over our lives. We don’t like feeling vulnerable.
One way we can use to chase away these unwanted fears is denial. This is just a political hoax in an election year. Somebody else will get sick, not me. Somebody else will die, not me. Denial in the face of a dangerous reality isn’t very helpful. Another approach to gain control is violence. We scream at those forcing us to shelter in place. We walk around with our guns on display. We refuse to wear masks. These actions might help us feel more powerful and in control but reality hasn’t changed, we are still vulnerable.
The disciples were feeling vulnerable in the above reading. Jesus had just told them that he would be leaving them. He predicted their betrayal. Jesus was speaking about his upcoming death. Life for the disciples was going to change, drastically.
Jesus comforted them by saying that in the Father’s house there are many rooms. Jesus also told them he was going to prepare a place for them so that they could be with him. These words of comfort are why this reading is often used at funeral services. However, Jesus wasn’t going away to hang drywall and do landscaping. The Father’s house is more than a condo. Father’s house implied household, being part of the family. The ongoing and anxious moments taking place were how Jesus was preparing the way for us to have a secure place in the Father’s house, family. In their vulnerability and in ours, is the security of knowing we are a part of the Father’s house.
One of the disciples, Philip, still needed more reassurance. He wanted to see God. Jesus’ reply was that because of their unity, to see Jesus is to see the Father as well. What does Jesus show us about God to us who are so vulnerable? We see compassion…empathy…willingness to share our vulnerability…willingness to face death. What we see about God, the Father, is love in action. What we see in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are the great lengths that the Father will go to bring us into his household and give us a resurrected life no longer vulnerable.
These days we feel vulnerable. We don’t like it at all. While we live in denial, yell at each other and put others at risk to claim some sense of control, nothing has changed. We are still vulnerable. This is why Jesus’ words are so important for us to hear. Knowing that we have a secure place in the Father’s house, we can allow ourselves to feel vulnerable. We can allow ourselves to see the vulnerability of others too. We can emulate Jesus’ compassion and empathy. We can point to Jesus so that others can also recognize God’s presence in their vulnerability.