In a week like this it doesn’t take much time to look around and see that here is trouble in the world. When Jesus uttered these words to his disciples he was preparing them for his departure - his suffering and crucifixion - and their own eventual suffering. But he didn’t finish his sentence there. “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” It would be in the decisive moment of his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, ascension that the initial phase of Jesus’ overcoming the world would be complete. But how long those few days must have been. How strangely true those words must have rung in the disciples’ ears.
And for us too, how true those words ring. Earthquakes, hurricanes, mudslides and floods indiscriminately destroy everything in their path. Gun violence occurs at a disastrously hastening clip. The soul of our nation wages war with itself in an ever-cheapening political discourse. Friends and family grow sick and suffer. Those close and most important to us die.
Lately, I have found myself asking the question, “How long, O Lord? How long will this continue? How long will you wait until you come again?"
I long for the wholeness and healing the return of Christ would bring. Like creation, which St. Paul says, there is a longing and groaning in me for the “redemption of our bodies…our adoption as sons and daughters” (Rom 8:22-23). And in that longing there is hope: “for in this hope we were saved. For who hopes for what he sees?”
And anchoring my hope leading to this redemption are Jesus’ words. St. Paul could loudly proclaim them as well. “But take heart; I have overcome the world."
To be sure, this world will continue to be full of tribulation and trouble. It might even get worse before it gets better. But Jesus has overcome the world. The brokenness that Adam’s sin unleashed into creation will be totally undone by the second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ. He overcame the world and its troubles by taking them all upon himself.
So we mourn and weep with those who mourn and weep. We groan and long along with creation. And we remember that Jesus took these troubles, though still present and among us, on himself on the cross in order to overcome the world.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.