Thứ Bảy, 20 tháng 5, 2017

MAY 21, 2017 : SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 55

Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
they sent them Peter and John,
who went down and prayed for them,
that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
and they received the Holy Spirit.

Responsorial PsalmPS 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!"
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
"Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!"
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 21 PT 3:15-18
Beloved:
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit.

AlleluiaJN 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
and my Father will love him and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, 
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him."


6th Sunday of Easter – Cycle A

Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

1st Reading - Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Last week we heard of the ordination of seven men as “assistants”: those who are to serve. In the intervening chapter (chapter 7) which comes between last week’s reading and this one, one of these assistants, Stephen by name, is martyred. The charges against him resemble those leveled against Jesus: (1) he has uttered blasphemies against Moses and God; (2) he has spoken against the Jerusalem temple and the Law; (3) he has maintained that Jesus of Nazareth will destroy the temple and change Mosaic customs.

In his speech to the Sanhedrin, the longest speech in the book of Acts, Stephen doesn’t directly answer the charges against him but instead delivers a sermon in which the history of Israel from Abraham to Solomon is recast in terms of opposition to Jesus – the history of the Jewish people has always been one of opposition to God’s appointed guides and of idolatry. The result is that Stephen is dragged outside the city and stoned; with those who are doing the stoning having their garments watched by a young Pharisee named Saul.

Thus began the persecution of the Church in Jerusalem; this leads to the spread of the Word from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria under the influence of the Hellenists. Although the twelve are still the nerve center of Christianity in Jerusalem, others are now also spreading the Word. Today we hear the story of Philip, another of the seven assistants.

5 Thus Philip went down to (the) city of Samaria

A more commonly accepted translation is “a town of Samaria”. Since this episode concerns the evangelization of the Samaritans, the specific city is unimportant.

and proclaimed the Messiah to them.

The Samaritans were regarded as holding unorthodox views by the Jews. Nevertheless, they did share with them a belief in the coming of a Messianic figure, the “Returning One”.

6    With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.

Even one of the assistants performs the miracles that Jesus promised his disciples would work (see Mark 16:17).

7    For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed and crippled people were cured. 8 There was great joy in that city. 14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,

Two of the twelve are sent from the mother Church in Jerusalem to incorporate the Samaritan community into the greater body of the Church.

15 who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

This is not to infer that their baptism was not a sacramental one, but points out the difference between baptism and confirmation. Note that the two apostles do not re-baptize but confirm. The distinction implied here between baptism and receipt of the Holy Spirit has always posed a problem for interpreters. It is no doubt a device used by Saint Luke to insist that the gift of the Spirit comes through the Church, represented by the college of the twelve in Jerusalem. Recall that Samaritans and Jews had nothing to do with each other; yet here are the apostles ministering to the Samaritans.

17 Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

This passage bears witness to the existence of baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit (confirmation) as two distinct sacramental rites. The most important effects Christian baptism have are the infusion of initial grace and the remission of original sin and any personal sin; it is the first sacrament one receives, which is why it is called the “door of the Church”. There is a close connection between baptism and confirmation, so much so that in the early centuries of Christianity, confirmation was administered immediately after baptism.

2nd Reading - 1 Peter 3:15-18

Having heard in the introduction to our first reading about the start of the persecutions of the Christian Church, we now hear Saint Peter tell us the Christian approach to persecution.

15    [S]anctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

The Lord of Isaiah 8:13 is God; here the title is applied to Christ.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,

Not just a conviction about future expectations, but the very essence of the motivation of the new people of God, the Christians. We have an imperishable and undefiled inheritance as we heard in 1 Peter 1:4 (2nd Sunday of Easter, Cycle A).

“We must be so well instructed in the knowledge of our faith that whenever anyone asks us about it we may be able to give them a proper answer and to do so with meekness and in the fear of God. For whoever says anything about God must do so as if God Himself were present to hear him.” [Didymus the Blind (ca. 381), Catena]

16    but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.

“Act in such a way that those who revile you because they cannot see your faith and your hope for a heavenly reward may see your good works and be put to shame by them, because they cannot deny that what you are doing is good. For it is quite certain, my brothers, that those who despise your good behavior will be put to shame when the last judgment comes and they see you crowned along with Christ, while they are condemned along with the devil.” [Saint Bede the Venerable (ca. A.D. 416), On 1 Peter]

17    For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Two weeks ago (4th Sunday of Easter, Cycle A), we heard this applied to slaves; now it is made more general.

18    For Christ also suffered for sins once,

Peter proposes Christ’s example as a motive of patience in the persecution – but he also emphasizes the unique character of His death, in view of man’s redemption.

the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,

“The righteous” is the early Church’s descriptive term for Jesus.

that he might lead you to God.

Christ’s death was not only a model, but gave men new access to God. By taking upon Himself the covenant curse brought upon mankind by the sin of Adam, Christ broke down the barrier between God and man.

Put to death in the flesh,

In His physical, earthly condition in which He resembles all other men.

he was brought to life in the Spirit.

At the resurrection, Christ became pneuma (spirit). Raised by the Father’s glory, Christ was endowed with a power making Him a living Spirit.

Gospel - John 14:15-21

Our reading for today is a continuation of our gospel reading for last week. We are at the Last Supper, just after Judas has left and Jesus has told the remaining eleven that He must soon depart too.

Jesus said to his disciples: 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,

Here, and in verse 26, the Spirit is said to be sent by the Father in the Name of Christ. In John 15:26 Christ sends Him from the Father – Christian tradition has spoken of the procession of the Holy Spirit both as from the Father through the Son and as from the Father and the Son. The Spirit is “another” Advocate because the Son Himself has been the first. Some translations use the term Paraclete instead of Advocate; Paraclete is a legal term that had been taken into Jewish use, signifying an advocate/ helper/ mediator.

17    the Spirit of truth,

This term partially defines the role of Advocate, to guide the Church in truth. Truth is His characteristic as it has been that of the first Advocate.

which the world cannot accept,

Neither could the world accept the Son, refusing to see in Him the revelation of the Father.

because it neither sees nor knows it.

The presence of the Spirit will be visible, as was the true nature of Christ, only to the eye of faith.

But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit will be both in the Church and in the early Christian.

18    I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

The coming of the Spirit will also entail the coming of the Son (and the Father as we find in verse 20) because of the shared life of the persons in the Trinity.

19    In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me,

Again, through the vision of faith; for Jesus will depart shortly from the sight of the world. because I live and you will live.

In His glorified state, the life of Christ is the principle by which Christians also live the life of God; with the indwelling of the Holy Trinity.

20    On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.

Jesus will not be absent from them because He and His disciples share life – the life of the Father. Living this life, the Christian will experience (know), in varying degrees depending on his sensitivity to the divine presence, the affirmation of his faith – the Father, Son, and the Church share the one life.

21    Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.

It is not sufficient merely to acknowledge the law of Christ, one must also observe it in their life. Obedience is the proof of love, which in turn makes possible the communion between God and man. The condition of the shared life which is promised is love and obedience.

And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

He will also not be absent because they share a common love – again in the Father.

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org


Meditation: The Counselor will be with you for ever
What makes us both fully human and truly like God? Is it not unconditional love which is unselfish, undying, and wholly directed to the good of others? The love of God unites us in an unbreakable bond of fidelity, friendship, and community with others. Jesus loved his own until the very end of his passion and death on the cross (John 13:1).
The nature of love
From the very beginning of creation God said: it is not good that man should be alone (Genesis 2:18). We were created in love for love - to be a community of loving persons, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are inseparably united in a community of unbreakable love.
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) said: We love because it is our nature to love, and it is our nature because God the Holy Spirit has made it our nature. Jesus speaks to his disciples of the inseparable bound of love between himself and the Father, and of their love for humankind. In Jesus we see the fulness of God's love and how God's love is directed to our well-being. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him (1 John 4:9).
Knowing God's love
How do we know that God truly loves each one of us? In the cross we see the proof of God's love for each of us and the incredible price God was willing to pay to redeem us from slavery to sin, death, and Satan. Jesus gave up his life that we might have life - abundant, everlasting life with God - a life of love and unity with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever.
Through the cross Jesus opened a new way of relationship for us as the adopted sons and daughters of God - his beloved children (Romans 8:14-17). Jesus calls his disciples to walk in his way of love through obedience to the will of the Father. True love is more than sentiment, emotion, or good intention. As important as these may be they are not the proof of sincere love. True love for God is expressed in obedience and obedience is expressed in love.
Jesus' best gift for us
Jesus promised to give his followers the best of gifts, the Holy Spirit as their Counselor and Helper. How does the Holy Spirit help us as the counselor? Counselor is a legal term for one who defends someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Helper who guides and strengthens us and brings us safely through the challenges and adversities we must face in this life.
The Holy Spirit is also the Giver of life - the abundant life which comes from God and which sustains us forever. The Holy Spirit also guides us in the way of truth, wisdom, and goodness. We can never stop learning because the Spirit leads us more and more into the knowledge of God's love, truth, and goodness. Jesus also promised his followers the gift of peace. Peace is more than the absence of conflict or trouble. Peace includes everything which makes for our highest good. Trust in God, faith in his promises, and obedience to his word lead us to peace and security in God's presence. That is why a Christian need not fear or be troubled by anything. The love of Christ brings immeasurable joy and consolation even in the midst of our trials and suffering. Paul the Apostle states,
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?... For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35,38-39).
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the knowledge of Christ's immense love and with his gift of peace.
"O God, you are the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings and the bestower of affection, who sends peace to those who receive it. Open to us this day the sea of your love and water us with abundant streams from the riches of your grace and from the most sweet springs of your kindness.  Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace; enkindle in us the fire of your love; sow in us your fear; strengthen our weakness by your power; bind us closely to you and to each other in our firm and indissoluble bond of unity." (ancient prayer from Syrian Clementine liturgy)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersThere is no love without the Holy Spirit, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
"How, then, did the apostles love, but in the Holy Spirit? And yet they are commanded to love him and keep his commandments before they have received him and, in fact, in order to receive him. And yet, without having that Spirit, they certainly could not love him and keep his commandments. We are therefore to understand that he who loves already has the Holy Spirit, and by what he has he becomes worthy of a fuller possession, that by having more he may love more. The disciples, therefore, already had that Holy Spirit whom the Lord promised, for without him they could not call him Lord. But they had him not as yet in the way promised by the Lord... He was yet to be given them in an ampler measure [at Pentecost]." (excerpt from TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 74.1–2)

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
SUNDAY, MAY 21, JOHN 14:15-21

(Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66; 1 Peter 3:15-18)

KEY VERSE: "I will ask the Father and he will give you another Paraclete - to be with you always" (v.16).
TO KNOW: As Jesus prepared to return to the Father, he comforted his fearful and bewildered disciples about his impending departure. The disciples were afraid that Jesus was abandoning them, but he reassured them that he would not leave them orphans. He and the Father would send another "Advocate" (Greek, parakletos ). A paraclete is legal terminology for a defense attorney, "one who stood beside another" as a spokesperson, witnessing in a law court in someone's favor. Just as the disciples see Jesus now, so they will soon see him in a “little while” (v 19) through the coming of the Spirit who could be called on to give help in time of need. The disciples who love others will be loved by the Father and Son who pours out this love on them through the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, the Spirit would be sent to all believers to continue Jesus' saving presence on earth.
TO LOVE: In what ways am I an instrument of the Spirit in my community?
TO SERVE: Holy Spirit, stand beside me as I testify to God's saving truth.​

Sunday 21 May 2017

6th Sunday of Easter. Week II Psalter. [St Christopher Magallanes & Cc].
Acts 8:5‑8, 14-17. Psalms 65(66):1-7, 16, 20. 1 Peter 3:15-18. John 14:15-21.
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy — Psalms 65(66):1-7, 16, 20.
‘I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.’
Peter reminds us that, as Christians, we should always be ready to explain to anyone who enquires why we are people of enduring hope.
The main source of this hope is given in today’s gospel passage from Jesus’ Last Supper discourse. We have his assurance that, risen from the dead as our ‘hope of glory’ (Colossians 1:27), he will always remain present to us in the gift of the Holy Spirit—loving us and revealing himself to us in our efforts to do God’s will.
How conscious am I of that presence and of that love as I go about my daily duties? Blessed John Henry Newman writes: ‘A true Christian, then, may almost be defined as one who has a ruling sense of God’s presence within him [or her].’

ST. CHRISTOPHER MAGALLANES AND COMPANIONS

“Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!”
This was the slogan of the “Cristero” uprising in the 1920’s against the anti-Catholic government of Mexico which had instituted and enforced laws against the Church in an absurd attempt to eradicate the Catholic faith in Mexico, even going so far as to ban all foreign clergy and the celebration of Mass in some regions.
St. Christopher Magallanes, along with 21 other priests and three lay companions, were martyred between 1915 and 1937, by shooting or hanging, throughout eight Mexican states, for their membership in the Cristero movement. Magallanes erected a seminary in Totatiche and he and his companions secretly preached and ministered to the faithful.
The last words heard spoken by Magallanes were from his cell, when he shouted, "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico".
Pope John Paul II beatified the Cristero martyrs in 1992 and canonized them in 2000.

LECTIO DIVINA: 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER (A)
Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, May 21, 2017

The promise of the Spirit
The commandments as the way of love in Christ
John 14: 15-21
1. OPENING PRAYER
Father, Christ your Son is already pleading for us, but through your Word, which is life for us, you also grant us the grace of opening our hearts to you in deep, intense, true and enlightened prayer. Send us the Consoler, the Spirit of truth, not only that he may dwell beside us, but that he may always dwell within our hearts. He is the fire of love that unites you with Jesus, the kiss that you exchange always. Grant that, through your Word, we too may enter into this love and live by it. Touch our spirit, our mind and all our being that we may welcome the commandments, hidden in these few verses; that we may keep them, that is, live them fully and in truth in your presence and that of our brothers and sisters. Amen.
2. READING
a) To place the passage in its context:
These verses lead us to the holy place where Jesus celebrates the last supper with his disciples: the place of his revelation, of his glory, of his teaching and of his love. Here, we too are invited to sit at table with Jesus, to lean on his chest, receive his commandment and thus prepare ourselves to enter with Him into his Passion and resurrection. After the passage of 13: 1-30, which tells us of the actions, words and feelings of Jesus and of those with him during the paschal meal, in 13: 31 we hear the words of the great last discourse of Jesus, which ends with the priestly prayer of chapter 17. Here, then, we are still at the beginning. In 14: 1-14 Jesus presented and offered himself as the way to the Father, whereas in these few verses he introduces the promise to send the Holy Spirit, as Consoler, as sure presence, but also the promise of the coming of the Father and of himself in the depths of the disciples who, through faith, will have believed in him and kept his commandments.
b) To help us in the reading of the passage:
vv. 15-17: First, Jesus clarifies to his disciples that for Him, love, if it is to be true love, must absolutely mean also the observance of his commandments. In brief, He wants to tell us that if we do not keep the commandments then there is no love; this is an essential and indispensable consequence, which reveals whether we really do love or only deceive ourselves that we love. Jesus also says that the gift of the Holy Spirit from the Father is the fruit of this love and observance that give rise to the prayer of Jesus, thanks to which we can receive the Spirit. Jesus explains that the Spirit is the Consoler, the Spirit of truth, the One whom the world does not see, does not know, but whom the disciples will see and know, the One who dwells with them and in them.
vv. 18-20: Jesus promises his coming, his return, which is about to happen in his resurrection. He says that he will no longer appear in his passion, death and burial, but that he will reappear to his disciples, who will see him, because he is the resurrection and the life. He also reveals his relationship with the Father and invites them and us into that relationship; in fact, he says that we shall know, that is we shall experience this relationship in our depths. Jesus and no one else could ever promise a greater consolation than this.
v. 21: Here Jesus’ discourse includes everyone; he moves from the “you” of his disciples to the “anyone” who begins to love him, enter into a relationship with him and follow him. That which took place for the disciples, the first chosen ones, takes place for anyone who believes in him. Here Jesus opens to us and to all his relationship of love with the Father, because by remaining in Christ, we too are known and loved by the Father. Finally, Jesus promises again his love for anyone who loves him and the revelation of himself, that is, a permanent manifestation of his love for us.
c) The text:
15 If you love me you will keep my commandments. 16 I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you for ever, 17 the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you. 18 I shall not leave you orphans; I shall come to you. 19 In a short time the world will no longer see me; but you will see that I live and you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. 21 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.'
3. A MOMENT OF PRAYERFUL SILENCE
so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life.
4. SOME QUESTIONS
a) This passage begins and ends with the same words: the proclamation and invitation to love the Lord. I know that, through this lectio divina, he wants to prepare me for a powerful meeting with love; perhaps I am frightened a little, I know that I am not used to this, perhaps I am ashamed, perhaps I feel superior towards these sugary words. But he insists and keeps on repeating only this, only Love. So what am I going to do? Am I going to stay and enter into this relationship, so involved, so upsetting? Or shall I go away, run away, because I am afraid, because I don’t feel like committing myself? Shall I choose Love, that is, this relationship, this confrontation, this exchange, this reciprocal giving, this giving of myself? Or shall I choose to be closed, remain alone in an absurd isolation of one who does not want to stay with his God and with his equals? Jesus says: “If you want”; He does not force. However, I know that he is waiting for me and has been so for a long time… why wait any longer?
b) I read and read again this passage, so that these words, so full of meaning, may be better imprinted on my mind and descend into my heart. I note that Jesus insistently says “you”, when referring to his disciples, those then with him but also those of today, that is us, each one of us seen and looked at by Him with a unique, personal, unrepeatable love that cannot be given away or substituted. I know that I too am included in that “you”, which seems generic but is not. I try to read again Jesus’ words and allow myself to be involved more directly; I place myself face to face, eyes to eyes with Jesus and let him tell me all, using that “you” full of love, using my name that only he really knows…. If you love me, my Father will send you another Consoler; you know him; he dwells near you and will be within you; I shall not leave you an orphan, I shall come back to you; you will see me; you will live; you will know that I am in the Father and you in me and I in you.
c) Now we meet an important expression of Jesus, repeated twice: “keep my commandments”. This is an important and fundamental fact, because the authenticity of my love relationship with the Lord depends on it; if I do not keep his commandments, then I do not love him. But I try to ask myself more carefully what does the verb “keep” mean, which looks so cold, so distant. I find it for instance in Mt 27: 36, where we read that the soldiers kept watch over the crucified Jesus; it is then a matter of close and scrupulous watching, an untiring watchfulness. On the other hand in Jn 2: 10, it appears with the meaning of keeping in store, reserving, as Jesus says of the good wine kept until last. 2 Timothy 4: 7 uses the verb in that wonderful verse on faith: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith”. This emphasises the effort, the great care used to safeguard and watch over that precious thing, faith. In Jn 17: 15, Jesus prays the Father to keep his own from the evil one, that is to preserve, protect, so that nothing and no one would harm or disperse them.
This is not simply a cold and external keeping of the commandments of God or of Jesus, but much more; this is a relationship of love, a being careful, protecting, keeping in life. Fundamentally it is realising that which I am told or asked, in my day to day life, every moment and in every situation.
5. A KEY TO THE READING
The following are the people I meet in the passage: the Father, Jesus, the Spirit, the disciples, the world.
The Father. The presence of the Father immediately appears as the point of reference of Jesus, the Son. It is to the Father that he addresses his prayer. He says: “I will ask the Father”. It is this very special and intimate contact that makes of Jesus the Son of his Father, that confirms him all the time as such. The relationship of love with the Father is nourished and maintained by prayer at night, at different times during the day, in times of need, in requests for help, in suffering, in the most distressing trials. If we scan the Gospels several times, we shall find Jesus thus, deeply involved in a relationship with the Father through prayer. Here are some relevant passages: Mt 6: 9; 11, 25; 14: 23; 26: 39; 27: 46; Lk 21: 21ff; 6:12; 10: 21; 22: 42; 23: 34. 46; Jn 11: 41ff; 17: 1. I feel that this is also the way for me; Jesus followed this way in depth, leaving me his enlightened and certain footsteps so that I may have no fear in following him in a similar experience. I too am the child of the Father, I too can pray to him.
Immediately after this, Jesus shows us the Father as the One who gives. In fact, giving is the main characteristic of God, who is uninterrupted, measureless and countless gift to all and at all times. The Father is Love and Love gives itself, gives everything. It is not enough that he gave us Jesus, his beloved Son, he still wants to bless us with and offer us life by sending the Holy Spirit. Indeed it is written: “He who has not spared even his own Son but has delivered him for us all, how can he fail to grant us also all things with him?” (Rm 8: 32).
Still more: the Father loves us (Jn 14: 23; 16: 27)! And this love of his allows us to pass from death to life, from the sadness of sin to the joy of communion with Him, from the solitude of hatred to sharing, because the love of God inevitably takes us to the love of our brothers and sisters.
Jesus the Son. In these few verses, the figure and presence of Jesus appear forcefully and with enormous clarity. He is immediately seen as praying, the one who prays to the Father for us; he raises his hands in prayer for us, just as he raises them in oblation on the cross.
Jesus is the one who does not go away for ever, who does not leave us orphans, but who will come back: “I shall come back”. If it seems as though he is absent, I must not despair, but go on believing in him because he will really come back. “It is true, I come quickly!” (Ap 22: 20). He will come back and, as he said, he will take us with him so that we may be where he is (Jn 14: 3).
Jesus is the living one forever, the conqueror of death. He is in the Father and in us, with an all-powerful force that nothing can ever destroy. He is in the Father, but also in us, he dwells in us, he stays with us; there is no possibility of true and full life for us other than that con-penetration of being which Jesus offers us. He says yes, always, and is never sorry for, nor does he ever withdraw from his commitment of love.
On the contrary! He loves us, as the Father loves us and reveals himself to us. He gives himself, offers himself, allowing us to know him, to experience him, to touch and taste him. But this is a revelation that is accompanied by love, as Paul says (2 Tim 4: 8).
The Holy Spirit. In this passage the Spirit of the Lord seems to be an emerging figure that embraces everything. He unites the Father to the Son, he brings the Father and the Son into the hearts of the disciples; he creates an indissoluble union of love, of being. He is called the Paraclete, that is the Consoler, the one who stays with us always, who will not leave us alone, abandoned, forgotten; he comes and gathers us from the four winds, from the dispersion and blows within us the strength for our return to the Father, to Love. Only he can work all this within us; he is the finger of God’s hand who, to this day, writes on the sand of our hearts the words of a new covenant, which can never again be forgotten.
He is the Spirit of truth, that is, of Jesus; in him there is no deceit, no falsehood, only the certain light of the Word of the Lord. He has built his dwelling place within us; he has been invited and goes from being close to us to being within us. He has become one with us, accepting this nuptial union, this fusion; he is all good, the friend of men and women, he is Love itself. That is why he gives himself thus, filling us with joy. Let us beware of making him sad, of sending him away, of substituting his presence with other presences, other covenants of love; we then would be the ones who would die, because no one could ever console us in his place.
The Disciples. The words Jesus addresses to his disciples are words that challenge me more directly, more forcefully; they are addressed to me, they impinge on my day to day life, they touch my heart, my thoughts, my most intimate desires. They challenge me to a true love that I must transform into concrete actions, keeping in mind the Word and the wish of the one I claim to love, the Lord. A love that can be verified by my observance of the commandments. The disciple, then, here appears as one who knows how to wait for his Lord on his return; at midnight, at cockcrow, or early in the morning? It does not matter; He will come back and so I must wait and be ready. What kind of love is it that will not wait, that will not watch, not protect?
The disciple is also one who knows; this is a knowledge given from above and which takes place in the heart, that is in one’s most intimate being and personality, where we make decisions to act, where we comprehend reality, formulate our thoughts, see and love. This is knowledge in the biblical sense, born of a strong, long and intimate experience, from a deep union and from reciprocal giving. This happens between the Spirit and the true disciple of Jesus. An unstoppable ever expanding knowledge that leads us to Christ, to the Father, and places us within their eternal and infinite communion of love: “You will know that I am in the Father and you in me and I in you”. The disciple is also someone who lives, who is in, that is within, in an unbreakable union with his Lord; it is not a superficial, distant, spasmodic union, but is always within the relationship of love. The disciple goes willingly, goes and comes back, allows him/herself to be held, entertained. And so realises the word of the Gospel: “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father”.
The disciple of Jesus, in fact, is one who is loved, one chosen, from the beginning and forever.
The World. The passage says little about the world, which we know to be very important in the writings of John: the world cannot receive the Spirit, because it cannot see or know him. The world is immersed in darkness and error; it does not see or know and cannot experience the love of God. The world stays at a distance, turns its back, closes itself and goes away. The world repays with hatred the love that the Lord has for it: the Father has so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Perhaps we too must also love the world, created by God; love it by uniting ourselves to the offering, the sacrifice of Jesus for it.
Could it not be precisely thus, in Christ’s offering, that we come to our full and brilliant truth as children of the Father, as disciples, as lovers? Is not this the end of this lectio divina, of this meeting with Christ, with the Father and the Spirit? May be it is really thus; we must come to the fullness of love, which is the keeping of the commandments and especially the one commandment of Jesus: love as I have loved you.
6. A MOMENT OF PRAYER: PSALM 22
Ref. You are with me, Lord, there is nothing I want!
Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
In grassy meadows he lets me lie.
By tranquil streams he leads me
to restore my spirit.
He guides me in paths of saving justice
as befits his name.

Even were I to walk in a ravine as dark as death
I should fear no danger,
for you are at my side.
Your staff and your crook are there to soothe me.

You prepare a table for me
under the eyes of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup brims over.

Kindness and faithful love pursue me every day of my life.
I make my home in the house of Yahweh for all time to come.
7. CLOSING PRAYER
Lord, you fill me with your love; I abound with joy and deep peace. Through your Word, You have loved me much during this meeting. You have given yourself to me fully; you have neglected nothing in me, my person, my whole life history. Lord, I am because you are; you are with me, within me. Today you have given me a new birth from above, you have renewed me; I know, I see, I feel your own life in me. This is a real Pasch, a true passing from death to life. Thank you, Lord, for your inexpressible love, which covers me, overpowers me and yet relieves and uplifts me!
Lord, I leave behind here my empty, useless, incapable jar and run into the city to call my friends, those whom you love, to tell them: Come you too that you may know Love!
Lord, one final thing: let me never betray you. If Love is not freely given, shared, then it fades into the distance, disappears, becomes sick and lonely. Please help me that I may be love.