Thursday, April 12, 2018
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
Your Son Jesus Christ came from You
and bore witness to the things
He had heard and seen.
He could not but bear witness to You.
Give us the Spirit of Your Son, we pray You,
to speak Your word and to live it,
that we may show Christ, Your living Word,
to those who have not seen Him.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - John 3:31-36
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.
• During the month of January we meditated on John 3:22-30, which shows us the last witness of John the Baptist concerning Jesus. It was a response given by him to his disciples, in which he reaffirms that he, John, is not the Messiah, but rather his precursor (Jn 3:28). On that occasion, John utters that beautiful phrase which summarizes his witness: “It is necessary that He grow greater and I grow smaller!” This phrase is the guide for all those who want to follow Jesus.
• The verses of today’s Gospel are again a comment of the Evangelist in order to help the communities to better understand the importance of the things that Jesus did and taught. Here, we have another indication of those three threads of which we spoke before.
• John 3:31-33: A refrain which is always repeated. Throughout the Gospel of John, there often appears conflict between Jesus and the Jews who challenge the words of Jesus. Jesus speaks of what He hears from the Father. He is total transparency. His enemies, not opening themselves to God and because they cling to their own ideas here on earth, are not capable of understanding the deep significance of the things that Jesus lives, does and says. Ultimately, this is the evil one which pushes the Jews to arrest and condemn Jesus.
• John 3:34: Jesus gives us the Spirit without reserve. John’s Gospel uses many images and symbols to signify the action of the Spirit. As in Creation (Gen 1:1), in the same way the Spirit descends on Jesus “like a dove, come from Heaven” (Jn 1:32). It is the beginning of the new creation! Jesus repeats the words of God and communicates the Spirit to us without reserve (Jn 3:34). His words are Spirit and life (Jn 6:63). When Jesus is about to leave this earth, He says that He will send another Advocate, another defender, to be with us forever (Jn 14:16-17). By his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus obtains for us the gift of the Spirit. Through baptism all of us have received this same Spirit of Jesus (Jn 1:33). When He appeared to the apostles, He breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (Jn 20:22). The Spirit is like the water which springs from the people who believe in Jesus (Jn 7:37-39; 4:14). The first effect of the action of the Spirit in us is reconciliation: “If you forgive anyone’s sins they will be forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained!” (Jn 20:23). The Spirit is given to us to recall and understand the full significance of the words of Jesus (Jn 14:26; 16:12-13). Animated by the Spirit of Jesus we can adore God in any place (Jn 4:23-24). Here is fulfilled the liberty of the Spirit of which Saint Paul speaks: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Cor 3:17).
• John 3:35-36: The Father loves the Son. He reaffirms the identity between the Father and Jesus. The Father loves the Son and places all things in His hand. Saint Paul will say that the fullness of divinity dwells in Jesus (Col 1:19; 2:9). This is why the one who accepts Jesus and believes in Jesus has eternal life, because God is life. The one who does not accept and believe in Jesus, places himself outside.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus communicates the Spirit to us, without reserve. Have you had any experience of this Spirit in your life?
• He who believes in Jesus has eternal life. What does it mean to believe? If one proclaims someone is a king, but does not follow this king's commands, is there really belief there is a king? Using this parallel, what does it really mean to believe?
5) Concluding Prayer
Proclaim with me the greatness of Yahweh;
let us acclaim His name together.
Taste and see that Yahweh is good.
How blessed are those who take refuge in Him. (Ps 34:3, 8)