Tuesday, April 30, 2013
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God, almighty Father,
you have absolute power over the world,
and yet you respect the freedom of people,
even of those who persecute your faithful.
Make us realize that our faith
does not protect us against the evil
which people bring upon one another,
but that you want us to build according to your plan
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Help our faith to stand the test
when our meager efforts fail.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 14,27-31a
Jesus said to his disciples: "Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me say: I am going away and shall return. If you loved me you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you this now, before it happens, so that when it does happen you may believe.
I shall not talk to you much longer, because the prince of this world is on his way. He has no power over me, but the world must recognise that I love the Father and that I act just as the Father commanded. Come now, let us go.
• Here in John 14, 27, begins the farewell of Jesus and at the end of chapter 14, he ends the conversation saying: “Come now, let us go!” (Jn 14, 31). But instead of leaving the room, Jesus continues to speak in three other chapters: 15, 16, and 17. If we read these three chapters, at the beginning of chapter 18, we see the following phrase: “After he had said all this, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron valley where there was a garden into which he went with his disciples“ (Jn 18, 1). In Jn 18, 1, there is the continuation of Jn 14, 31. The Gospel of John is like a beautiful building constructed slowly, rock on top of rock, brick upon brick. Here and there, there are signs of rearrangement or adaptation. In some way, all the texts, all the bricks, form part of the building and are the Word of God for us.
• John 14, 27: The gift of Peace. Jesus communicates his peace to the disciples. The same peace will be given after the Resurrection (Jn 20, 29). This peace is an expression of the manifestation of the Father, as Jesus had said before (Jn 14, 21). The peace of Jesus is the source of joy that he communicates to us (Jn 15, 11; 1620.22.24; 17, 13). It is a peace which is different from the peace which the world gives us, diverse from Pax Romana. At the end of the first century the Pax Romana was maintained by force and violent repression against the rebellious movements. Pax Romana guaranteed the institutionalized inequality between the Roman citizens and the slaves. This is not the peace of the Kingdom of God. The Peace which Jesus communicates is what in the Old Testament is called Shalom. It is the complete organization of the whole life around the values of justice, of fraternity and of equality.
• John 14, 28-29: The reason why Jesus returns to the Father. Jesus returns to the Father in order to be able to return immediately. He will say to Mary Magdalene: “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father” (Jn 20, 17). Going up to the Father, he will return through the Holy Spirit that he will send (cfr. Jn 20, 22). Without the return toward the Father he will not be able to stay with us through the Spirit.
• John 14, 30-31a: That the world may know that I love the Father. Jesus had ended the last conversation with the disciples. The prince of this world wanted to impose himself on the destiny of Jesus. Jesus will die. In reality, the Prince, the Tempter, the Devil, has no power over Jesus. The world will know that Jesus loves the Father. This is the great witness of Jesus which can impel the world to believe in him. In the announcement of the Good News it is not a question of diffusing a doctrine, or of imposing a Canon Law, or of uniting all in one organization. It is a question; above all, of living and radiating what the human being desires and has deeper in his heart: love. Without this, the doctrine, the Law, the celebration will be only a wig on a bald head.
• John 14, 31b: Come now, let us go. These are the last words of Jesus, the expression of his decision to be obedient to the Father and of revealing his love. In the Eucharist, at the moment of the consecration, in some countries, it is said: “On the day before his passion, voluntarily accepted”. In another place Jesus says: “This is why the Father loves me: because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me: I lay it down of my own free will, and as I have power to lay it down so I have power to take it up again, and this is the command that I have received from my Father.” (Jn 10, 17-18).
4) Personal questions
• Jesus says: “I give you my peace”. How do I contribute to the construction of peace in my family and in my community?
• Looking into the mirror of the obedience of Jesus toward the Father, on which point could I improve my obedience to the Father?
5) Concluding Prayer
All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh,
and your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingship
and tell of your might. (Ps 145,10-11)