Today’s Gospel takes place at the Last Supper just after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The disciples and many in Jerusalem saw that entry as a turning moment in their history when God through Christ would re-establish a new, great Davidic king. Being a conquered people and suffering the occupation of the Roman army and bureaucrats, their hopes and thoughts were mostly around a political solution to their woes. Even many of the disciples saw Jesus as a political messiah. Within that context, John remembers Jesus’ “farewell discourse” the night of the Last Supper as a long, Spirit filled, powerful Word of God. Jesus announces that he is leaving – just at the point that they thought should be his moment of power and fame, that should be his moment to act. He announces he is leaving to return to the Father and that they know the Way. He says he is leaving but sending another, an advocate, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit who will teach them and help them remember what he proclaimed. This produces great confusion, sadness, and grief in that first community of faith. It was indeed a very confusing Passover meal for them. They were not yet prepared to understand the service of the washing of the feet, the breaking of the bread, the meaning of the cross nor the power of the Holy Spirit.
They lived out the Word of God that Jesus proclaimed that night through their common experience of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They were transformed by those experiences. Many times, we get stuck, like the disciples, in our own personal hopes, fears, grief, and confusion as we try to navigate through our lives. The faith of the disciples and the power of the Spirit pushed them into a new mode of life – confidence and joy in the risen Christ.