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Showing posts from May 30, 2021

Joy And Sorrow, Coming and Going (John 16:16-24)

 The disciples didn't get it, that Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection. It's somewhat funny to think about now, because he just said a few verses ago that he was going to the Father. But the apostles are just like us. How often do we miss the most obvious things, and forget things we know? On the other hand, "a little while" in God's time could mean anything. The fact that it turned out to be three days by the Hebrew counting is somewhat of a relief, but we remember how hard it was for Jesus to endure the fact of Lazarus being dead for a couple of days, even knowing that he was going to raise him from the dead. In light of that, I think his sympathy for their sorrow is genuine. Jesus speaks as a prophet next, with the familiar formula. The apostles and the other disciples will have sorrow at the death of Jesus, while the world will rejoice. In this way, Jesus is introducing them and us to the idea of redemptive suffering. There has always been suffe

The Holy Spirit, Guide Into All the Truth (John 16:12-15)

 Jesus says that he could say even more, but the apostles can't bear it now. The Holy Spirit will come, and he will explain everything. The Holy Spirit does not work alone, but he says what the Father and Jesus would also say. As Christians, we believe that nothing new has been revealed in Jesus, since the death of the last apostle, which interestingly enough, was St. John. Yet this seems to say that the Holy Spirit can give us and the whole Church a deeper understanding and clarity about things we already know. In fact, if you look at our history, you will see this. A person from 800 years ago will not have the exact same understanding of the faith as we do today, but the heart of it is the same. Who is Jesus? Who am I? And why does it matter? These are still the questions we ask, in every time and place. Jesus is the faithful Son of the Father, so unlike the younger son in the parable of the prodigal son, (Luke 15:11-32)  Jesus doesn't waste his "inheritance" on him

Be Prepared to Suffer (John 16:1-11)

 Jesus knows that if he tells the apostles all these things, they will have more courage to face the persecution that will come from the authorities. Sometimes, we react poorly in times of struggle because we are surprised. Jesus tells them that they will be kicked out of the synagogues. He is reminding them that faith in him will change the practice of their faith in such a way that it is a new faith. There is a time and place to tell things, and Jesus thought that while he was still there to care for them and teach them, it wouldn't be the best time to tell them everything. Of course, they would be sad; that's only natural. He tells them he needs to go away, so that the Holy Spirit will come to them. It will be the Holy Spirit who now teaches and cares for them, and indeed, the whole Church. The Holy Spirit convicts and convinces, with regard to sin. Jesus says that the leadership has sinned in rejecting him. He will go to the Father to fulfill the Father's plan of righte

It's Not Going to Be Easy (John 15:18-27)

 Any hatred and opposition that we face was first faced by Jesus. We remember that "world" for St. John refers to any and all opponents of God. If we belonged to the sinful world, Jesus says they would love us, and love the apostles. As it is, they have enemies and opponents, and so will we. Later on in the Scriptures, St. Paul will remind us that our struggle is not really against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers opposed to God. When Jesus says that a student is not greater than his master, he is talking about the suffering he faced, and the suffering we will face, but he is also pointing out that every good thing that God could give us as a reward for being faithful belongs to Jesus by right. We will never be greater than him, or outgrow our need for him. Jesus says that opposition to him is rooted in not really knowing the Father who sent him. We will eventually have a chance to realize that suffering like Christ is a great privilege, and it lets us know t

Love One Another, As Jesus Loves Us (John 15:12-17)

 Jesus had already said that the law and the prophets were summed up by the two great commandments: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. Now he says to the apostles, " one another as I have loved you." Once again, this is not something that we are able to do in our own strength. God must give us the grace to do it, but in light of the fact that he has given that grace, we should do what Jesus is commanding us. Jesus is preparing them for his death on the cross. That is the greater love of which he is speaking. As soon as he mentions laying down his life for his friends, he calls them friends, if they did not know. The apostles are in the inner circle; that's what Jesus means when he's telling them everything. They know the Father's plan, and they will know their part in carrying it out. It was not their superior knowledge or wisdom that caused Jesus to choose any one of them, but it is a mystery of grace. In a sense, we are chosen in a similar way.

Abide In Jesus (John 15:1-11)

 It's common in the older Hebrew Scriptures for God to describe Israel as his vineyard. So when Jesus says that the Father is the vinedresser, he's not reaching too far with the metaphor. Jesus as the true vine is worth some thought. The branches get their life from the root; they have no life in themselves. Jesus had said earlier in chapter 10 that he had come so that we may have life, and have it abundantly. I'm sure none of us is overly excited about being pruned by God, like a diseased branch, but then again, that's better than being thrown away and burned in fire. Jesus reminds us quite directly that we have no life in ourselves when he says, "for apart from me you can do nothing." This spiritual life is not self-help, but is actually rooted in abandoning ourselves to God's loving care. How do we "abide" with Jesus, and in Jesus? Each moment is a chance to reflect upon Jesus, to remember what he has already done for us, and to change directi