Tuesday, May 7, 2013
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
if we really believe in you and in your Son,
we cannot be but witnesses.
Send us your Spirit of strength,
that we may give no flimsy excuses
for not standing up for you
and for the love and rights of our neighbour.
Make us only afraid
of betraying you and people
and of being afraid to bear witness.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 16,5-11
Jesus told to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me. Not one of you asks, 'Where are you going?' Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this. Still, I am telling you the truth: it is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will show the world how wrong it was, about sin, and about who was in the right, and about judgement: about sin: in that they refuse to believe in me; about who was in the right: in that I am going to the Father and you will see me no more; about judgement: in that the prince of this world is already condemned.”
• John 16, 5-7: The sadness of the Disciples. Jesus begins with a rhetorical question that makes evident the sadness of the disciples, at this time evident in the heart of the disciples because of the detachment from Jesus: «Now I am going to the One who sent me; not one of you asks, where are you going?” It is clear that for the disciples the detachment from the life-style lived with Jesus implies suffering. And Jesus urges saying: “Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this” (v. 6). Thus Saint Augustine explains such a sentiment of abandonment of the disciples: “they were afraid to think of losing the visible presence of Christ... they were grieved, saddened in their human affection, at the thought that their eyes would no longer be consoled in seeing him”. (Comment of the Gospel of John, XCIV, 4). Jesus tries to dispel this sadness, due to the fact that they will not have his presence, revealing to them his departure. We can say that if he does not leave them, the Paraclete will not be able to join them; if he dies and therefore, returns to the Father, he will be able to send him to the disciples. His departure and the detachment of the disciples is the previous condition for the coming of the Paraclete: “because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you...” (v. 7).
• John 16, 8-11: The Mission of the Paraclete. Jesus continues to describe the mission of the Paraclete. The term “Paraclete” means “advocate”, that is, support, assistant. Here the Paraclete is presented as the accuser in a process that is carried out before God and in which the accused is the world which has made itself guilty for condemning Jesus: «He will show the world how wrong it was, about sin, and about who was in the right and about judgment” (v. 8). The Greek verb elègken means that he will make an inquiry, he will question, will test: he will bring out to light a reality, and will furnish the proof of the guilt.
The object of the confutation is sin: he will give the world the proof of the sin that it has committed regarding Jesus and will manifest it. Of which sin is there a question here?; that of unbelief (Jn 5, 44ff; 6, 36; 8, 21.24.26; 10, 31ss). Besides, for the world to have thought that Jesus was a sinner (Jn 9, 24; 18, 30) is an inexcusable sin (Jn 15, 21ff).
In the second place he will “refute” the world “concerning justice”, On the juridical level, the notion of justice which adheres more to the text, is the one which implies a declaration of guilt or of innocence in a judgment. In our context this is the only time that the term “justice” appears in the Gospel of John, elsewhere there is the term “just”. In John 16, 8 justice is linked to all that Jesus has affirmed about himself, that is, the reason why he is going to the Father. Such a discourse concerns his glorification: Jesus goes to the Father, he is about to disappear in him and therefore, the disciples will not longer be able to see him; he is about to entrust and to submerge himself completely in the will of the Father. The glorification of Jesus confirms his divine filiation or son ship and the approbation of the Father regarding the mission which Jesus has accomplished. Therefore, the Spirit will show directly the justice of Christ (Jn 14, 26; 15, 26) protecting the disciples and the ecclesial community.
The world that believed to have judged Jesus condemning him is condemned by the “prince of this world”, because it is responsible for his crucifixion (13, 2.27). Jesus in dying on the Cross is exalted (12, 31) and he has triumphed over Satan. Now the Spirit will give witness to all about the significance of the death of Jesus which coincides with the fall of Satan (Jn 12, 32; 14, 30; 16, 33).
4) Personal questions
• Is the fear, consternation of the disciples in losing Jesus also ours?
• Do you allow yourself to be led by the Spirit, the Paraclete who gives you the certainty of the error of the world and helps you to adhere to Jesus, and, therefore, he introduces you into the truth about yourself?
5) Concluding Prayer
I thank you, Lord, with all my heart,
for you have listened to the cry I uttered.
In the presence of angels I sing to you,
I bow down before your holy Temple. (Sal 138,1-2)