...when (the Advocate) comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
The weekday gospel readings during the Easter season after the octave, are taken from the Gospel of Saint John. We are now in the 16th chapter, the final chapter of Jesus' Last Supper discourse. The 17h chapter will be a prayer directed to the Father, and Jesus will proceed to Gethsemane and his crucifixion in the 18th chapter.
So today's passage begins with the word now, as in, "Now the hour has come..." This sixteenth chapter concerns the agony of judgment that must fall upon the entire world, beginning with Jesus' disciples. They will be overwhelmed with grief as he ascends to the Father, especially because his "ascension" will appear to all the world like nothing more than his being raised upon a cross.
I spoke with a Veteran recently who has been struck with paralysis on one side of his body. Eight months later he can walk, but just barely. He has not adjusted well and was almost suicidal before he was brought to the hospital. Having hit the bottom of self-pity, he is ready to turn around and come back to life. Because he is an extraordinarily devout man I could suggest to him that his disability is a "communion" with the Crucified Lord. "It's certainly not the cross you might have preferred, but it's the one he gave you."
Like most people, I would like to see Justice Reign Supreme, and the sooner the better. However, I am not quite so ready to have it begin with me. I can think of a dozen others who should change their ways before I do. Once again, that's not the way it works.
In today's gospel, sin is defined as not believing in Jesus. He does not set the standard; he is the standard of what is valuable and what is not, of who is righteous and who is not. Salvation, or "freedom," begins with believing in him.
It is right that he should go to the Father, even by way of the cross. Further, it is right that we should "no longer see" him; for we must find that inner way of faith that leads to the Father through him.
By the time this Gospel was written Jesus would have been a hundred years old, but the Gospel recalls the incomprehensible waste of a good man with so much more to do, accomplish and give. How is it that we, the disciples at that table, should see him no more? How can that be good or righteous?
They, like you and me, must live by faith. It will be an astonishing faith, as the Acts of the Apostles reveals, which is driven to announce the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Their boldness was unimaginable on that particular evening, in the quiet days before the Passover, but it would soon burst into view.
Finally, with their new faith they will see "the ruler of this world" condemned. Although he is rich and powerful with armies at his beck and call, he weighs nothing and means nothing. In God's sight he barely exists!
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.