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Showing posts from May 9, 2021

Will You, Peter? (John 13:36-38)

 St. Peter doesn't understand what Jesus means by "going," either. He takes advantage of his special position as the head of the apostles to ask Jesus privately. Peter gets the explanation, and he doesn't like it. In our more confident moments, we're just like Peter: thinking we're going to do all these big things, but oftentimes, our weaknesses are greater than our resolve. Jesus doesn't spare any truth with Peter, because he also tells him that he will deny Jesus three times.  In the movie, "Minority Report," Detective John Anderton is working in the "pre-crime" unit of the DC police. In this dark near future, the police can see into the future, and intercept people before they commit crimes. Peter must have felt like John Anderton, when he became aware that he himself would be guilty of a crime. We can leave the sticky details of exactly how Jesus knows something that hasn't happened yet, but it must have been terrible to have th

A New Commandment (John 13:31-35)

 Everything Jesus says for the rest of this chapter he says without Judas the betrayer being present. It is fitting, because betrayal and murder certainly is not consistent with love. Yet Jesus starts off talking about being glorified, which means being crucified. If we are honest, we don't see the glory of the Cross with our human eyes. Also, what does it mean to say that God the Father is glorified in Jesus? I think that God is glorified in the life of Jesus as much or more than he is in the death of Jesus. Jesus says that his time there with them is growing short. No one quite understands that Jesus will ascend back into heaven, after his death and resurrection. We assume that St. Peter is honestly confused, rather than thinking Jesus is crazy, as his opponents probably did. We have to think that we are able to follow Jesus later because he will give us the power to get to heaven with him. I don't think it's too much of a reach, because St. John told us all the way back

The Apostles Want To Know the Betrayer (John 13:21-30)

 Even if Jesus was speaking prophetically just before, it moved him emotionally, to realize that one of his closest friends, as an apostle, would be the one to betray him. We almost get the sense that they didn't understand Jesus, when he said that he would be betrayed by one of them before. So this finds him saying it again, and he said it clearly enough that they understood the weight of it, and were asking him to tell them. If we hang out with Jesus and the apostles enough, we will start to notice that Jesus will say strange and interesting things, and the apostles want to ask him about it, but sometimes they lack the courage. Even among the twelve apostles, there is a sort of chain of command. They know that they should ask St. John or St. Peter, if they want to know what Jesus meant, and he isn't talking. So they succeed, and our Lord tells St. John which one of them it will be. On the other hand he doesn't come straight out and say it, but he says that the one he give

Jesus Explains the Foot-Washing (John 13:12-20)

 Jesus put all his garments back on, and then he sat back in his place. He asked them if they knew the meaning of what he had just done. According to the wording here, Jesus didn't wait for an answer; it was a rhetorical question. They called him, "Teacher," because that is something the students of a rabbi might call him in this time. "Lord" is more interesting, because when one of the disciples of Jesus uses this word in the Gospels, it tends to be a divine title. The ruling authorities at the time didn't miss this meaning, because it kept getting the members of the Church in trouble. The Romans thought their emperors at the time were divine, and they used the same word. On the other hand, in certain places in the Gospels, the word could mean simply, "Sir." So Jesus takes all this, and says that if he is God, and King of Israel, and he nevertheless takes the place of a slave in order to serve them, that they should serve each other in the same wa

Jesus Washes the Apostles' Feet in the Upper Room (John 13:1-11)

 We need to be aware that when we read the next five chapters of John's Gospel, (13-17) we are reading about Jesus alone with his apostles in the upper room of a house, preparing to celebrate the Passover. No one else is there. He says some of the most intimate and personal things to them in these next chapters. In fact, right away Jesus does something which would be shocking to them: he washes their feet. Why is this shocking? In this culture, the duty of foot-washing, especially of important guests, fell to a slave. This is why Peter doesn't want Jesus to wash his feet. It would be completely humiliating for Jesus, if Jesus had an ego. He's trying to tell us something, and later he will make it even more clear. What about the water? The washing seems pretty important. I think there are two things going on here. The first is that Jesus and his apostles introduced a new baptism, which was greater than the one given by John the Baptist. Remember, John the Baptist said this:

Jesus Summarizes His Teaching (John 12:44-50)

 Jesus gives the credit and authority to God the Father in everything. This doesn't mean that Jesus has no power and authority; it just means that he submits to the Father, and sees himself as the Son of the Father, and the one the Father sent, nearly all the time. Jesus says that anyone who sees him sees the Father. This question will come up later, because one of the apostles really wants to see the Father, and Jesus says that if you have seen him, you have seen the Father. He also says that he is our Savior, more than our Judge. He says the Father will be the judge. Between saving and judging, we don't want to say that there is only saving in what Jesus does, but it seems clear enough that saving is more at the front of Jesus's mind and heart. I do believe that we could not possibly imagine the depth of Jesus's love for us. And the difficulty of keeping his commands doesn't change this. God will give us the power to obey what he commands. All we have to do is to

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program

 You get this question sometimes in a debate with an atheist: what if a fertility clinic was on fire, and there was also a five-year-old trapped in the building along with all the frozen embryos? Doesn't it make more sense to save the five-year-old? I suppose it is in service to some nebulous idea of "consciousness," that human rights are to be attached only to those who are conscious, and frankly, able to defend themselves. But let us posit a few things in the scenario. First, I will posit that the individual in the scenario only has the capacity to save one person. Furthermore, the five-year-old is equally vulnerable; that is, if you don't help her, she'll die, as certainly as all the embryos. There might be some aspect of our decision-making that says, "if I don't urgently assist the embryo to remain frozen, shortly after we escape from this situation, that person may die anyway," but it is a true no-win scenario, in the crucial fact that a person