Grieved at Changes in Life

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:5–7

Jesus continues to speak prophetically to His disciples about the necessity for Him to go to the Father so that He can send the Holy Spirit. What’s interesting in this passage is that Jesus points out to His disciples that “grief” has filled their hearts because of what He has said to them. Clearly, this grief in their hearts is because they do not understand what they will soon experience and do not want their relationship with Jesus to change.

Throughout our lives, our Lord will call us to change. At times, He calls us away from that with which we are familiar and comfortable, and He calls us to something new. This can be frightening and can become the cause of “grief” for us also. To help, let’s consider this passage above in detail.

Recall that there were many times, prior to Jesus death, that Jesus slowly started to reveal to His disciples, especially to the Twelve, that He would be going to the Father and that He would no longer be with them in the way He had been. Jesus wanted the Twelve to begin to understand that their relationship with Him, with the Father, and with the Holy Spirit would soon take on new meaning in their lives. But the fact that this was something new, a change to what they had grown accustomed, meant that they were more focused upon the grief that accompanies loss than they were focused upon the joy that awaited.

This same experience can often be found in all of our lives. Though dramatic change is not necessarily a regular occurrence throughout life, most everyone will experience change at various moments in life. And when that change occurs in accord with the will of God, it must be embraced with hope and great expectation.

For example, vocational changes, such as getting married, having children, or entering a religious vocation, always bring with it much change—but a change that God can use for much good. Also, the death of a loved one, a move to a new community, a new job or school, the establishment of new relationships and the like can be difficult but also fruitful. Since the Gospel passage above specifically refers to the change that comes from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it might be helpful to consider the fact that whenever some new change takes place in our lives, the Holy Spirit is there, waiting to enter into the new situation in ways we could have never imagined. So if you find yourself at times experiencing the grief of some loss, or difficulty with some new endeavor in life, know that the disciples experienced something similar. But in the end, Jesus’ words came true—“it is better for you that I go.” Though they did not want to see Jesus die and then ascend to Heaven out of their sight, this was part of the plan of God for their lives. So also when the changes we encounter in life are part of God’s divine plan, we can be certain that good things await.

Reflect, today, upon anything that our Lord may be asking of you in regard to a change in your life. Are you open, ready and willing to do whatever He asks? Or are you fearful or grieved by the thought of some change. Be open to anything our Lord asks of you and know that the full embrace of His holy will is the only path to true happiness in life.

My dear Jesus, You prepared Your disciples for the new life of grace that they would receive after Your death and Resurrection. Though fearful and uncertain, they embraced the new life You called them to live, and You did marvelous things through them. Please open my heart to the full embrace of my vocation and any changes that You desire for my life. I say “Yes” to You, my Lord, and pray that You work powerfully through me by the Holy Spirit. Jesus, I trust in You.