Monday, April 29, 2013
1) Opening prayer
Lord God, loving Father,
we look for your presence
in the temple of nature
and in churches built by our hands,
and you are there with your people.
But above all, you have made your temple
right in our hearts.
God, give us eyes of faith and love
to recognize that you live in us
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
if we keep the word of Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord for ever.
2) Gospel Reading - John 14,21-26
Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever holds to my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him.' Judas -- not Judas Iscariot -- said to him, 'Lord, what has happened, that you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?' Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him. Anyone who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not my own: it is the word of the Father who sent me. I have said these things to you while still with you; but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
• As we said at the beginning, chapter 14 of the Gospel of John is a beautiful example of how the catechesis was done in the communities of Asia Minor, at the end of the first century. Through the questions of the disciples and the responses of Jesus, the Christians formed their conscience and found an orientation for their problems. In chapter 14, we find the question of Thomas and the answer of Jesus (Jn 14, 5-7), the question of Philip and the response of Jesus (Jn 14, 8-21), and the question of Judas and the answer of Jesus (Jn 12, 22-26). The last phrase of the answer of Jesus to Philip (Jn 14, 21) forms the first verse of today’s Gospel.
• John 14, 21: I shall love him and reveal myself to him. This verse presents the summary of the response of Jesus to Philip. Philip had said: “Show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied!” (Jn 14, 8). Moses had asked God: “Show me your glory!” (Ex 33, 18). God answered: “My face you cannot see, for no human being can see me and survive” (Ex 33, 20). The Father cannot be shown. God lives in inaccessible light (1 Tim 6, 16). “Nobody has ever seen God” (I Jn 4, 12). But the presence of the Father can be experienced through the experience of love. The First Letter of Saint John says: “He who dos not love does not know God because God is Love”. Jesus tells Philip: “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and reveal myself to him”. By observing the commandment of Jesus, which is the commandment to love our neighbour (Jn 15, 17), the person shows his love for Jesus. And whoever loves Jesus, will be loved by the Father and can be certain that the Father will manifest himself to him. In the response to Judas, Jesus will say how this manifestation of the Father will take place in our life.
• John 14, 22: The question of Judas is the question of all. The question of Judas: “Lord, what has happened that you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” This question of Judas mirrors a problem which is real even today. Sometimes, among us, Christians, there arises the idea of being better than the others and of being loved by God more than others. Do we attribute to God the distinction among persons?
• John 14, 23-24: The answer of Jesus. The answer of Jesus is simple and profound. He repeats what he had just said to Philip. The problem is not if we, Christians, are loved more by God than others, or that the others are despised by God. This is not the criterion for the preference of the Father. The criterion for the preference of the Father is always the same: love. “If anyone loves me, he will observe my word, and my Father will love him and we shall come to him and make a home in him. Anyone who does not love me does not keep my words”. Independently of whether the person is Christian or not, the Father manifests himself to all those who observe the commandment of Jesus which is love for neighbour (Jn 15, 17). In what does the manifestation of the Father consist? The response to this question is engraved in the heart of humanity, in the universal human experience. Observe the life of the persons who practice love and make of their life a gift for others. Examine their experience, independently of religion, of social class, of race or colour, the practice of love gives us a profound peace and it is a great joy that they succeed to live and bear together pain and suffering. This experience is the reflection of the manifestation of the Father in the life of the person. It is the realization of the promise: “I and the Father will come to him and make our home in him.
• John 14, 15-16: The promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus ends his response to Judas saying: I have said these things to you while still with you. Jesus communicates everything which he has heard from the Father (Jn 15, 15). His words are a source of life and they should be meditated, deepened and updated constantly in the light of the always new reality which surrounds us. For this constant meditation of his words, Jesus promises us the help of the Holy Spirit: “The Consoler, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus says: We will come to him and make our home in him. How do I experience this promise?
• We have the promise of the gift of the Spirit to help us understand the word of Jesus. Do I invoke the light of the Spirit when I prepare myself to read and meditate the Scripture?
5) Concluding Prayer
Day after day I shall bless you,
I shall praise your name for ever and ever.
Great is Yahweh and worthy of all praise,
his greatness beyond all reckoning. (Ps 145,2-3)