Weekday Gospel Reflection

Monday in the Seventh Week of Easter

John 16:29-33 - World English Bible

29 His disciples said to him, "Behold, now you speak plainly, and speak no figures of speech. 30 Now we know that you know all things, and don't need for anyone to question you. By this we believe that you came from God."

31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the time is coming, yes, and has now come, that you will be scattered, everyone to his own place, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world."

After Jesus explained that he would soon be departing but he would return (16:19-28), the disciples reaffirm steadfast loyalty to him. He spoke plainly about his relationship with the Father; now they knew he came from God and, implicitly, he had to return. But, he sensed their faith would be short-lived. Indeed, it was more bravado than anything else. They would scatter in the face of opposition, but he would not be alone, for he had the Father. Together, even with the world against him, he had overcome the world.

How does the victory of the Risen Christ give you hope?

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Tuesday in the Seventh Week of Easter

John 17:1-11 - World English Bible

1 Jesus said these things, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said, "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you; 2 even as you gave him authority over all flesh, he will give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ. 4 I glorified you on the earth. I have accomplished the work which you have given me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world existed."

6 "I revealed your name to the people whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours, and you have given them to me. They have kept your word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatever you have given me are from you, 8 for the words which you have given me I have given to them, and they received them, and knew for sure that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me."

9 "I pray for them. I don't pray for the world, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All things that are mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are."

These opening verses of John 17 could be divided into three parts: 1-5, 6-8 and 9-11. The first section formed an "A-B-C-B-A" or a step-up, step-down structure John used in his gospel. The following summarized the verses:

A: Glorify your Son (17:1)

B: so the Son might glorify you ...he gave eternal life to...everyone you gave him. (17:2)

C: This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and the One whom you sent, Jesus Christ. (17:3)

B: I gave you glory on earth having completed the work you gave me to do. (17:4)

A: Now you give me glory... (17:5)

This structure led up to the top step, as a way to highlight its importance. In other words, the glory given the Son by the Father (A) and shared with his followers (B) led to eternal life, knowledge found only in an intimate relationship with the Father and his Son. Glory was a means to an end: salvation.

What is the content of this knowledge that is eternal life? In the second section, Jesus described it as revelation of the Father's name. In this sense, the name made the power of God manifest; it revealed the presence of the Father in the community. To remain in the community of the saved, the disciple needed to "keep the word" of the Father given to them through the Son.

Jesus finished the passage with a prayer for his followers, for he would return to his Father. He finished his work, to unify humanity with divinity, to give eternal life to those who would receive "the word."

How have you received the Father's word this day?

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Wednesday in the Seventh Week of Easter

John 17:11b-19 - World English Bible

Jesus prayed:

11b "Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you have given me I have kept. None of them is lost, except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to you, and I say these things in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that you would take them from the world, but that you would keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, even so I have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth."

Those who spoke in the name of a king make pronouncements as if the king himself were present and enforced his decrees with the might of his army. Speaking in the name of any regent implied the presence and power of such a royal person. When Jesus prayed through the name the Father gave him, he implied the same. Replace the word "name" with the phrase "presence and power" in 17:11b-12 to get a taste of his real meaning.

Jesus employed the "name" of the Father as a means to an end: intimate union with his followers. The "name" (i.e., presence and power) kept his followers safe from the Evil One (except Judas) and filled them with joy. His followers held fast to the "word" of the Father (his command to believe in his Son) and those in the common culture hated Christians for their devotion to the Lord, their beliefs and their lifestyle of charity. Indeed, the evangelist saw that hatred divide the world in two, dark vs. light, evil vs. good, pagan vs. Christian. Yet, the Lord sent his disciples out into the other world to convert it, armed only with the "truth." In this sense, God's truth was not only a message in the form of propositions found in the creed or syllogisms one used in apologetics, but much deeper, a knowledge that flowed from intimate union with the divine, a relationship that made one right with the Father. ("Your word is truth" was a reference to Psalm 119:142.)

How have you grown closer to God in Easter time?

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Thursday in the Seventh Week in Easter

John 17:20-26 - World English Bible

Jesus prayed:

20 "Not for these only do I pray, but for those also who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; 23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also whom you have given me be with me where I am, that they may see my glory, which you have given me, for you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 Righteous Father, the world hasn't known you, but I knew you; and these knew that you sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and will make it known; that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and I in them."

In John 17, Jesus spoke of unity and glory. His glory had two aspects: visual and auditory. The disciples saw the Risen Christ appear before them; the stories of his appearance boosted his reputation among the people. They beheld his glory (in terms of light, like the Transfiguration) and they eagerly spoke about him with anyone who would listen. Glory, then, depended upon what one saw and heard.

Like glory, his unity had two aspects, mystical and communal. One described the first type in the language of ecstasy: visions, speaking in tongues and emotional states of bliss. One described the second type in the language of consensus: common purpose and agreed action. The focal point for both aspects of unity was the Risen Christ. In the gospels, Jesus usually appeared to groups, not individuals (except for Mary Magdalene in John 20:14-17 and Paul/Ananias in Acts 9:1-16), to give them the commission of spreading the Good News. The gifts of the Spirit (especially in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11) were meant for the life of the community and for evangelization. In other words, while members sought mystical union, God extended such intimacy for the good of others. The Lord used spiritual ecstasy as a tool to draw humanity closer to him.

In 17:26, Jesus melded glory and unity together in one word: love. The reason the Father sent the Son to die and rise, to call a community of disciples together for his Son, to empower these followers through his Spirit, could be summed up in his desire to love the world.

Where do you see or hear of God's love in your life today?

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Friday in the Seventh Week in Easter

John 21:15-19 - World English Bible

15 When they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?"

He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you."

He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?"

He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you."

He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?"

Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you."

Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 Most certainly I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don't want to go."

19 Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. When he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

In John 21, Jesus served a morning meal of fish to Peter and six other disciples after their fishing excursion. Afterwards, the Lord asked Simon three times about his affection for his Master; this obliviously mirrored the three times Peter rejected Jesus during the Passion. The passage above translated devotion ("apage" in Greek) as "love" and commitment of a friend ("phileo" in Greek) as affection. In either case, devotion and commitment to the Christ were two sides of the same coin, for faith required both. After each question, Jesus commanded Peter to take care of the community in terms of a shepherd ("feed...tend...feed"). The leader of the community would continue the type of service the Lord offered as the "Good Shepherd" (John 10:1-21).

Leadership based upon commitment and devotion had a cost. Over time, Peter would lose his autonomy and his prerogative. Instead, he would led to his martyrdom, just as the proverb in 21:18 implied. That was the cost of discipleship, a price worth paying.

How has your devotion and commitment to the Lord cost you? Has discipleship been worth the cost?

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Saturday in the Seventh Week of Easter

John 21:20-25 - World English Bible

20 Peter, turning around, saw a disciple following. This was the disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who had also leaned on Jesus' breast at the supper and asked, "Lord, who is going to betray You?" 21 Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?"

22 Jesus said to him, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me." 23 This saying therefore went out among the brothers, that this disciple wouldn't die. Yet Jesus didn't say to him that he wouldn't die, but, "If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you?" 24 This is the disciple who testifies about these things, and wrote these things. We know that his witness is true. 25 There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they would all be written, I suppose that even the world itself wouldn't have room for the books that would be written.

This last passage from John wrapped up his gospel and, in a way, the gospel genre. Another follower, the beloved disciple (which tradition assumed to be the evangelist himself) came with the Lord, but Peter questioned his presence: "What about him?" Would this beloved member be alive at the Second Coming? That was a side issue for Jesus; his primary concern was discipleship. And, with that focus, the gospel came to a close with two comments. First, its veracity was guaranteed by an eye witness. Second, Jesus did so many other things, they could fill volume upon volume. In other words, the gospels were written for one reason, discipleship. Eye witness accounts and other traditions about the Lord only strengthen that reason.

How do stories about Jesus add to your faith?

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