I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. (John 16:33)

The disciples are about to be scattered and Jesus is preparing them for this in today’s Gospel (John 16:29-33). Ever since the Ascension, the disciples of Jesus have been spread all over the world. The promise of Jesus assures us that we are never left abandoned. In his resurrection he has proved that he has overcome all the powers of the world, and that this is true for us.

This week we prepare to celebrate the feast of an Oblate missionary, Blessed Joseph Gerard, who had been sent to Southern Africa at the age of 24. Despite his dedication and hard work, after eight years he had nothing to show for his labors. Not a single Zulu person was converted to Jesus Christ. In the spirit of the confidence of today’s Gospel, Eugene wrote to him in 1860:

After so many years not a single conversion; it is awful!

You must not lose heart because of it. The time will come when the merciful grace of God will produce a sort of explosion and your African Church will be formed. You ought perhaps to penetrate deeper inland among other tribes in order to bring this about. (4 September 1860)

Joseph Gerard was encouraged and persevered and his efforts bore abundant fruit, which have lasted till today.

Today St Eugene continues to say to us: “Do not lose heart!”

In the spirit of the confidence of today’s Gospel, let us not lose heart – let us have courage because the Risen Savior has overcome the world, and that is true for us.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene’s response of “After so many years not a single conversion; it is awful!” sit in a new light today. Before now I have read this to mean that Eugene was finding fault with Blessed Joseph; as if he was blaming him for not being able to baptize one single Zulu person. I would silently rail at Eugene for being so heartless. But this morning I read it with eyes that see how Eugene is saying it with love; he seems to be inferring how awful is for Joseph Gerard who has given his all for so long has not yet been able to see the fruits of his hard work.

    This morning I sit here looking at how wonderful it is that Frank leads us with a line or two from the Gospel. And how he marries the two: Jesus and the apostles to Eugene and his sons and daughters. Back in the earliest days of Jesus walking on this earth, joined to Eugene and his founding community as they walked on this earth with Jesus as the model; and their continued relevance in today’s world with all of us who are sons and daughters of St. Eugene.

    In today’s world the norm seems to be to see that which does not immediately show fruit or profit, to blame someone or something and to then discard it before moving that which is new or different. We are called to something which is different from that way of being; we are called to follow Jesus and his disciples, Eugene and his founding community. We are called to follow our models in today’s world. We are called to persevere; not in emptiness but in confidence with the spirit of the Gospel.

    We are called to become the living Gospel.

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