To hear the Audio Reflections of Saturday, April 28, 2018 click HERE
Friday, 27 April 2018
Saturday, April 28, 2018 - Jesus revealed the Father as unconditional love. How will you reveal Jesus today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts13:44-52; Jn 14:7-14
These verses continue the teachings begun in 14:1. The one who knows Jesus also knows the Father for Jesus reveals the Father as Father. In Jesus, one sees the Father as never before because no one has revealed him like Jesus does. Like Thomas before him, now Philip does not understand what Jesus is saying and in his ignorance, asks a question. He does not realize that in seeing Jesus he has seen the Father because of the revelation that Jesus makes of the Father. In offering himself, Jesus has offered all the revelation that the disciples need to identify the Father.
Jesus can only do what the Father has told him and so his works are those of the Father. Philip and the other disciples must be able to see Jesus as the revelation of the Father, if not in his person, at least through the works that Jesus does. The works flow from his person and are not separate from him but an integral part of who Jesus is. The works, too, are works of revelation. They show that the primary aim of God is not to condemn but to save and so are works that enhance and build up.
Since it is Jesus who sends the disciples, the works that anyone who believes in Jesus will do will be the same as those of Jesus. In fact, these will be able to do even greater works than Jesus. These works will make known the whole story of Jesus as Word made flesh and so, will be greater than those which Jesus does. Since these will be done after the whole Christ event – death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father – they will continue the glorification of Jesus. They will continue to reveal Jesus to the world, sitting at the right hand of God. Jesus will answer every prayer of the disciples made in his name and he will grant their petitions.
As Jesus made God known to the world through unconditional, magnanimous love, so the disciples are called to do the same. The works that Jesus did have to be continued today if Jesus is to be made present and is to be revealed to a world that does not yet know him. It is the present community of disciples that has the responsibility to continue the mission that Jesus began. Whenever an enhancing word is spoken, whenever an action that heals is done, whenever love is shown in a tangible manner, then the work of Jesus continues and Jesus continues to be made present.
To be sure, the revelation of God that Jesus made can also be recognized in the depths of one’s heart, but this is not the whole story. It is a love that must be shared and revealed to the world if it is to be complete and whole. The incarnation was not a private revelation given to a select few, but an earth shattering event made visible to the whole world. So the revelation of Jesus, today, has to be done visibly and tangibly.
Saturday, April 28, 2018 - Acts 13:44-52; Jn 14:7-14
Thursday, 26 April 2018
Friday, April 27, 2018 - Have you, by your narrow mindedness, prevented others from encountering Jesus? Will you realize that he is bigger than anything that you can ever imagine?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts13:26-33; Jn 14:1-6
Today’s Gospel reading contains the first of the teachings of Jesus that speak about his departure and what it means for his disciples.
At the beginning of these teachings, Jesus commands his disciples to stand firm. They are not to let the event of his departure overwhelm them. They are not to give in to despair, give up, or lose hope. They must continue to trust and believe. Even though it might seem, on the surface level, that evil is winning, the disciples must realize that God is always in charge and in control of all situations. They must place their trust in God and in Jesus.
Since Jesus shares an intimate relationship with the Father, and since the disciples can do so too, there will be as many rooms as there are believers. God and Jesus will exclude no one who wants to share this relationship with them. Jesus goes, but only to return and so, his going is not permanent. It is a temporary act that must be done and completed. This going and returning will be evidence of his power over everything, including death. Nothing and no one will ever be able to separate the disciples from the love that Jesus has for them. The purpose of Jesus’ returning is to take the disciples to the place where he is: the bosom of the Father.
Even as Jesus points to himself as the one who reveals the Father, Thomas misunderstands and asks a question. He interprets the words “where I am going” only as a physical destination and so, protests that, since he does not know the final destination of Jesus, it is not possible to know how to get there. Jesus corrects this misunderstanding with an “I am” saying. “The Way” is not a geographical term or physical road, it is Jesus himself. Thus, to know Jesus is to know the way and, to know the way is to know Jesus. In his being “the Way” Jesus is also “Truth” and “Life”. Jesus is the “Truth’ because he has been sent by God to make God’s word known. He became “flesh” and anyone who recognizes this and listens to his voice, is of the truth. Recognition of the truth in Jesus leads to “life” in abundance. Since the fullness of God’s life was revealed in Jesus, one can only partake of this life through Jesus.
It is important not to be too fundamental in interpreting the last verse of today’s reading. All too often, insistence on the exclusiveness of the Christian way has been responsible for problems in various parts of the world. The Gospels all agree that the approach of Jesus was all inclusive and excluded no one who would want to come to the truth. There is no doubt that Jesus revealed the Father in the most unique of ways, as no one before had ever done. This is because, in the incarnation, God took on “flesh” in all its weaknesses and limitations. Jesus did not simply put on human nature but became like us in every single way and thus, can understand every aspect of our lives. However, by the fact of the incarnation, Jesus also gave us an insight into who God is and who we are called to be. He made us aware of our own limitlessness. Though he limited himself, we must realize that Jesus is much bigger than the narrow image of him we often have. This narrow image is responsible for our restricting him and making him as small as we are.
John was writing about his community’s experience of seeing God in Jesus incarnate and was not concerned with showing the superiority of this revelation over any other or with the fate of believers of other religions. We must keep this in mind when interpreting the last verse of today’s text. We must, however, rejoice because we are privileged to receive such a unique revelation of God in Jesus Christ.
When one brackets out the questions that contemporary Christians falsely import into these verses, there is nothing outrageous or offensive about the claims made here. Rather, at the heart of Christianity is this affirmation of the decisive revelation of God in the incarnation. John 14:6 can thus be read as the core claim of Christian identity; what distinguishes Christians from peoples of other faiths is the conviction given expression in John 14:6. It is, indeed, through Jesus that Christians have access to their God.
Wednesday, 25 April 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts13:13-25; Jn 13:16-20
These verses contain the second part of the discourse spoken by Jesus after he washes the feet of his disciples. In the first part (-15), Jesus teaches his disciples about the meaning of his washing their feet, and the implications that this action has for their lives as his disciples.
In the second part of this discourse (-20), Jesus teaches about discipleship in general and the relationship that the disciples share with him. The double Amen at , and at , forms an inclusion and so brackets and highlights what Jesus says in between. The disciples must remember that their role, in their relationship with Jesus, is that of servants to their master. If they understand this and act on it, then they will be blessed. They must, at every stage, know where their authority ends. The sayings which are highlighted by the inclusion are in -19 and contain a prediction of betrayal. Jesus is aware of who the betrayer is and also knows that it is not an outsider, but one who has eaten at table with him. Ps 41:9 is quoted here to accentuate the intimacy of the betrayal. The betrayer is someone whose feet he has washed, one with whom he has broken bread and one whom Jesus has loved to the very end. This foreknowledge of the betrayer also means that Jesus is in control of the events that lead to his death and is not taken by surprise. Another reason for informing his disciples about his betrayal, in advance, is so that they may realize who Jesus is: Son of God. Even as he is betrayed, he will reveal himself as God for us.
Since Jesus has been sent by God, he has God’s stamp and authority. The disciples, who are in turn sent by Jesus, have the authority and stamp of Jesus. Thus, if anyone accepts the disciples, they are in effect accepting Jesus. Just as Jesus shares fully in God’s work, so the disciples share fully in Jesus’ work of giving life to all and giving it in abundance.
Jesus’ act toward us, in love, manifested symbolically in the washing of the feet and sharing of bread, presents everyone who sits at his table with a choice: One can embrace Jesus’ gift to us and embody one’s embrace of that gift through one’s own acts of love or, one can turn one’s back on Jesus’ gift of love. This means that merely sitting at Jesus’ table, and even eating the bread that he gives, is not the full story. It has to be continued in the giving of self to others and is only completed when this is done. We then enter into community with Jesus and with one another.
Thursday, April 26, 2018 - Acts 13:13-25; Jn 13:16-20
Tuesday, 24 April 2018
To hear the Audio reflections of Wednesday, March 25, 2018 the feast of St. Mark, Evangelist click HERE
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - St. Mark, Evangelist - Mark wrote a Gospel to share his experience of Jesus. What will you do to share your experience of Jesus?
To read the texts click on the texts: 1 Peter 5:5-14; Mk 16:15-20
The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes identified with John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother's house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there.
St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark's cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.
St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 65 C.E..; and possibly for Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition has it that Mark was the interpreter of Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospel reading for the feast is from Mk16:15-20. Most scholars today regard Mk 16:9-20 as an addition to the original ending of Mark at 16:8. A number of reasons are put forward for this view. The first is that Mary Magdalene is introduced in 16:9 as if she is being mentioned for the first time. However, Mark has mentioned her before (15:47; 16:1). Second, there is no mention of a Galilean apparition in these verses, though one is explicitly promised in 16:7. Third, these verses are a combination, in summary form, of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus in the other Synoptic Gospels, in John, and in the Acts of the Apostles.
The text of today begins with the command of the Risen Lord to the disciples to proclaim the Good News to all nations. The disciples are challenged to go beyond their fear and with confidence trusting in the power of the Lord. The Lord will accompany them everywhere and their wtiness will draw all peoples to the Lord.
The enemy of faith is fear. However imperfect our faith, and however many times we remain silent when we should testify to the gospel, we can always return to the Lord. None of us can get so far away from Jesus that we cannot be touched by God’s healing presence. Jesus continues to use each of us even in our weakness to be his messengers of the good news that, in him, God loves everyone.
Let the feast of St. Mark be for each one of us an opportunity to live out our faith and inspire others and draw them to the Lord.
Monday, 23 April 2018
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Acts 11:19-26; Jn 10:22-30
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Do you believe that God always wants what is best for you? How will you respond if things do not go the way you wish them to go today?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts11:19-26; Jn 10:22-30
The verses that begin today’s reading inform us that Jesus is in Jerusalem at the Feast of Dedication which was celebrated in December each year. This feast is the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. It celebrated the liberation of Jerusalem from the reign of the Syrian (Seleucid) king Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus had defiled the Jerusalem Temple in 167 BCE by building an altar to his own gods within the Temple sanctuary. In 165 BCE, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers regained control of the Temple and rededicated it to the God of Israel. The eight-day feast took place in the month December and was marked by the lighting of lamps and rejoicing.
The Jewish religious authorities begin the dialogue by asking Jesus whether he is the Messiah. They are annoyed that Jesus is not being explicit. This is the only place in the Gospel of John where Jesus is asked explicitly whether he is the Messiah. Jesus responds that he has been explicit and that he has told them, in no uncertain terms, the truth about himself and yet, they do not believe. Jesus then points to his ‘works” as indicators of this claim. “Works” here does not refer to miracles alone, but to the broader scope of Jesus’ ministry and includes the revelation of himself as having been sent by God.
Belief in Jesus determines whether one belongs to the fold of Jesus. Since the Jewish leaders do not believe, they cannot and do not belong to the fold. Those who belong to the fold hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow trustingly. Following Jesus leads to eternal life which he alone can give. The reason why Jesus can do this is because he has received this gift directly from the Father. What is more is that Jesus and the Father are one. This means that Jesus and God are united in their work of salvation and Jesus shares completely in God’s work.
We are privileged, as Christians, to have as our God one who is Good Shepherd, one whose primary interest and concern is to care for the good of the sheep. Our God is a God who wants to lead us to safety and to places where there is abundance. He wants what is best for us at all times and will do anything to protect us from any kind of harm. Though this is the case, we do not always listen to his voice and we prefer to go our own way. The only result that we can expect, after such a choice, is destruction and death.
Sunday, 22 April 2018
Monday, April 23, 2018 - What is the shepherd calling you to do today? Will you listen to his voice?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts11:1-18; Jn 10:1-10
These verses contain part of the Discourse on Jesus, the Good Shepherd. This Discourse appears in the Gospel of John after Jesus has healed a blind man on the Sabbath, because of which, the Jews are upset (9:1-41). It is the last full discourse of the public ministry of Jesus. The Farewell Discourse from 14:1-16:33 is exclusively given to the disciples and not to the public.
The focus in the first part of the Discourse (10:1-5) is on the shepherd and his relation to the flock. A contrast is made between the authorized shepherd and the bandit. The authorized shepherd enters by the gate, but the bandit climbs in another way. The reason for this is because the gate keeper opens the gate for the authorized shepherd but not for the bandit. Since he is the authorized shepherd, the sheep hear and recognize his voice. When he calls, they answer. There is an intimate bond between the shepherd and his sheep. They recognize and know each other. The shepherd walks ahead of the sheep and leads them out. The sheep are confident in his leadership and thus, follow him trustingly. They will not follow a stranger but will rather run away from him. The comment of the evangelist serves two purposes. The first is that the reader must understand that Jesus is using a “figure of speech” and thus, not take the metaphor literally. The reader must realize that many meanings are possible and therefore, must go below the surface, to the deeper meaning. The second point is that the listeners did not understand this figure of speech. If seen in the context of the miracle, and the healing of the blind man on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees objection because the healing took place on the Sabbath, then it seems clear that the authorized shepherd is Jesus and the bandits are the objectors. Jesus has the good of the sheep at heart and the bandits do not.
In the second part (10:7-16), while pastoral imagery is still used, the Discourse moves in a new direction. Jesus is also the “Gate” for the sheep. The gate has two functions: one is to give access to those who are legitimate and have a right to enter, and the other is to prevent those whose intention is to cause destruction. Rightful entry into the fold is only through Jesus, who is the gate.
The text of today concludes with one of the most beautiful and comprehensive statements of the mission of Jesus. Jesus is the Good Shepherd and Gate. He has come to give life and give it to the full. All who listen to his voice will receive this life in abundance.
As the gate, Jesus is the way to life, but he is not merely that. He also leads the way and so, is the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the way to life because he is himself life and he leads the way to life because he lays down his own life. These are non-transferable attributes; they derive from the heart of Jesus’ identity as one sent by God.
Saturday, 21 April 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18
The fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday and it is easy to see why. In the eight verses of today’s Gospel, Jesus twice describes himself as the Good Shepherd. This clearly indicates that the thrust of these verses is on meaning of this term and also on the relationship of the shepherd and his sheep. Even as he describes himself as the Good Shepherd, he contrasts himself with the hired hand and through this emphasizes the qualities of the Good Shepherd.
Those of us who live in cities or towns may not be able to fully appreciate this allegory. Our experience of sheep leads us to see them as dumb creatures who are good only for their wool and as food on our tables. However, if we go beyond this superficial understanding and attempt to understand instead the deeper meaning then we will be able to appreciate more fully what Jesus means.
The adjective ‘good’ used here can also be read as “model” or “true” and so Jesus is saying that he is the model of true shepherd. This is a reference to the image of God as the good shepherd in the prophet Ezekiel. There God is described as the shepherd who cares for the sheep, rescuing them from danger, feeding them, tending to the weak sheep, healing the wounds of those who are injured and going after those who are lost.
Jesus as the model or true shepherd does all this and more. He even willingly, and of his own accord, lays down his life for his sheep. He does this not to earn a reward, but as an expression of the love that he has for the sheep which is an expression of love for the Father. This is why he in control of even his own death. No one can take his life, because he gives it up freely and without reserve. However, his death is linked inextricably with his resurrection and ascension, and it is through all these three events that he completes his work as good and true shepherd.
In contrast, the hired hand is the bad shepherd or untrue shepherd. This one is concerned only about his own welfare and not the welfare of the sheep. When such a one takes charge, the sheep are scattered and neglected, and go astray.
The good shepherd on the other hand gathers the sheep and keeps them together. He is concerned not only with the sheep that belong to his fold and so is not exclusive. There are other sheep also, who though not of the fold will listen to the shepherd’s voice because they will recognize it as a voice of unconditional love. They will know that their salvation lies in listening to this voice.
Some may find being compared with sheep derogatory. However, if we understand the metaphor for what it is and capture its essence, we will find that this need not be so. The challenge to the sheep is to listen to the voice of the true shepherd and not the hired hand. This means that in a world in which we hear so many voices, to discern the voice of the true shepherd is not easy. The voice of the shepherd calls first to unity. This unity is manifested in community living, in which each is concerned about the other much like the shepherd who is concerned about each and all. It is also manifested in imitating the true shepherd’s qualities of self giving and self sacrificing love. Such imitation of the shepherd will draw all sheep into one fold, in which differences in individuals will not be points of contention, but will be celebrated instead. In the fold of the true shepherd there will be a unity even in diversity, because the mission of the true shepherd is an inclusive one.
This is why Peter can invite the rulers of the people and elders whom he addresses in the first reading of today to join this community of love. It is a community that has one head, one true shepherd, Jesus Christ in whose name and through whose power wholeness occurs. Though he was rejected, crucified, died and was buried, he continues to draw all peoples to him through his resurrection and ascension and being present always.
This gift of being drawn to him is, however, only a foretaste of what is to come. In the second reading John tells his community that they are to receive the grace to see God as he is and will always be: unconditional love.
The readings of today therefore call each one of us to live out our lives according to the model of community envisioned here by Jesus. It is a model of mutual self giving, of self sacrifice and of living as a community. It is a model where the needs of the other take precedence over my own. It is a model in which differences are not frowned upon but celebrated. It is a model in which there is a profound unity even in diversity. It is a model grounded in the mutuality of love embodied in the relationship of Jesus and God.
Sunday, April 22, 2018 - Acts 4:8-12; 1 Jn 3:1-2; Jn 10:11-18
Friday, 20 April 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts9:31-42; Jn 6:60-69
The text of today begins with the disciples grumbling after hearing what Jesus has said. The sayings are too difficult for them to accept. Jesus responds to their grumbling by issuing a challenge to them. If this affects them, they will be even more affected when they experience the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Son of Man. Jesus takes the disciples beyond the specific event of becoming and giving bread. He takes them to the whole of the Christ event and its mystery. Jesus, as Bread of Life, must be seen in the larger context of God’s plan of salvation through his Son.
The flesh, as flesh, and without the Spirit, is nothing. It cannot give live, nor does it have life. It is the Spirit that gives life and makes the flesh what it is. This means that simply eating the flesh of Jesus, without the right disposition, will not lead to life. Thus, those who eat and drink are not merely eating Jesus’ flesh and blood but the Spirit filled flesh and blood of Jesus. Even as Jesus offers the gift of life, through becoming bread, the gift is rejected because most prefer death. There are still those who will not believe. They have made their choice. God offers the gift of his Son to all, but not all will accept him. This is why many disciples drew back and no longer went with Jesus. This rejection leads Jesus to turn to the Twelve and ask them about their stand. They must choose whether they will accept or reject the offer of life that God makes in Jesus.
Simon Peter responds on behalf of the Twelve and at least verbally accepts that offer of life. He acknowledges that Jesus has the words of eternal life and that he is the Holy One of God, the one set aside by God.
Life always offers us choices. The choices that we are sometimes faced with might not always be what we desire, but the fact remains that we are free to choose. We can choose to be miserable or to be happy, we can choose to fear or to love, and we can choose to say No or to say Yes. Every choice that we make has its own consequences and we must be prepared to face them since it is we who have made the choice.
Saturday, April 21, 2018 - Acts 9:31-42; Jn 6:60-69
Thursday, 19 April 2018
Friday, April 20, 2018 - When someone places a new idea in front of you, is your first reaction one of rejection?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts9:1-20; Jn 6:52-59
The first verse of today’s text, which contains the question that the “Jews” ask, is occasioned by the statement that Jesus makes in the previous verse. The agitation in their hearts is because Jesus has identified himself with the bread of life. Jesus replaces the manna that their ancestors ate.
Jesus addresses this protest in the verses that follow. The bread that is to be eaten is the flesh and blood of the Son of Man. Refusal to do this means death or non-life. Eating the flesh and drinking the blood results in life and resurrection on the last day. By not mentioning bread and wine and thus, not equating them with the flesh and blood of Jesus, John focuses on the corporeal and not only on the sacramental representations. He also wants to stress that Jesus gives his whole life to all who are willing to receive him. The flesh that Jesus gives is life giving and so is his blood. It is real food and drink that will end all hunger and thirst.
Eating of the flesh and blood of Jesus leads to a mutual indwelling. The one who eats and drinks abides in Jesus and Jesus abides in that person. This relationship is an extension of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Just as Jesus lives the Father’s life, so all who eat and drink will live Jesus’ life. The penultimate verse concludes the Bread of Life Discourse and repeats a theme that has been prevalent throughout. The bread which Jesus gives has indeed come from heaven and will give life forever and give it permanently, unlike the manna which could offer only temporary life.
The reference to the synagogue in
is to highlight the difference between Jesus’ teaching and that of the Jewish
teachers and the difference between the manna eaten by their forefathers and
the Bread of Life that Jesus gives. Capernaum
It is not always easy to accept ideas which challenge our old way of thinking. Often our first reaction is rejection of that idea. We refuse to think outside the box, and are content with stereotypes with which we are comfortable. We are comfortable with them because they do not threaten us or call on us to change. We prefer that our boats not be rocked. However, Jesus continues to rock the boat and challenge our ways of thinking and being. He continues to wake us from our stupor and keeps inviting us to see more and be more.
Wednesday, 18 April 2018
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - How will you show that you have accepted the gift that God gives in Jesus?
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6:41-51
The symbol of “bread” is misunderstood by the people. They respond with unbelief. They grumble at Jesus’ claim that he is the bread of life and has come down from heaven. They protest that they “know” where Jesus comes from, they are aware of his antecedents. Even as they make such a statement, they are unaware of its error. They “think” they know, but in reality do not know.
Jesus addresses the crowd and asks them to stop their grumbling and then repeats the promise made earlier of resurrection on the last day for the ones who will believe. To reiterate the point that he makes, Jesus appeals to scripture and specifically to the prophets. “And they shall all be taught by God” refers to the initiative that God takes. The emphasis is on God who does the teaching. This means that Jesus’ commission is divinely ordained and not from humans. If the ones who hear realize this, then they will come to Jesus and they will have learnt correctly. This means that, while God does take the initiative, humans are responsible for responding accurately.
Jesus shares a unique relationship with the Father and is the only one who has seen Him. Those who learn have to learn to see the Father in Jesus. They have to learn that it is in Jesus that they have eternal life and that he is indeed the Bread of Life.
By using the distancing “your ancestors”, Jesus makes a contrast between the manna that they ate and the bread of life that he gives. The manna their ancestors consumed could not result in saving them from death, but the bread that Jesus gives results in a person living forever. This is because the bread that Jesus gives is living bread, a life giving bread. The bread that he gives for the life of the world is his flesh. This can mean, on one hand, the incarnation, where the Word became flesh, but on the other, can refer to his death on the cross, when he will give his life for the life of the world.
The purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world was to reveal the Father as God who wanted to save all people. This results in God taking the initiative in the tangible way of sending his son to become flesh for all. Even as God takes the initiative, he leaves humans free to respond to his act of love. Humans always have a choice when it comes to the gifts that God gives. They can accept them or reject them. Acceptance means life, rejection means death. There is no middle way.
Thursday, April 19, 2018 - Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6:41-51
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts8:1-8; Jn 6:35-40
Today’s text begins with the last verse that was read yesterday in order to place what follows in context. Jesus has stated that he is the Bread of Life and he invites all who are willing to come to him to be fully satisfied. The words “seeing’ and “believing”, which appear at and again at form an inclusion. The crowd has seen and yet has not perceived. They have not seen rightly and thus, cannot come to faith. This lack of proper vision is surprising when one realizes that Jesus’ primary purpose is not to hide but to reveal. He will welcome all who come to him. They will not be driven away. The purpose of his coming down from heaven is for the sake of revelation. This is the Father’s will and Jesus will do only what the Father commissions him to do. The Father’s will is inclusive and no one is to be excluded unless they want to exclude themselves. If one sees rightly and thus believes, what is gained is eternal life and resurrection on the last day. This promise combines both the present and the future.
These verses bring out powerfully the balance between divine initiative and human response. God takes the first step and remains open to anyone who is willing to come and receive the gifts that he wants to pour out. However, there will not be any coercion or pressure on the part of God. Those who come to receive from him must come freely and without reservation. The gift is ever available and free. It is not for a select few but for all.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018 - Acts 8:1-8; Jn 6:35-40
Monday, 16 April 2018
To read the texts click on the texts: Acts7:51-8:1; Jn 6:30-35
The invitation that Jesus issues to the crowd, to believe in him who was sent by God, results in the crowd asking for a sign. This demand is a clear indication that they have not grasped the meaning of Jesus’ words. They have been fed at the miraculous feeding but were not able to see it for the sign that it was meant to be. The crowd goes further in this demand by looking back at what happened in the desert during the Exodus and how their ancestors were fed. This seems strange, and even absurd, because they have been fed even more abundantly than their ancestors. This also points to how ignorant and even closed the crowd is to the revelation that Jesus continues to make.
Jesus does not remind them that he had already given them bread, but first corrects their misunderstanding. It was not Moses who gave their ancestors bread but his Father. This bread is not merely bread that was given in the past but it continues to be given in the present. It, and not the manna, is the true bread from heaven. It is true bread because it gives life to all who eat it.
Like Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman before them, the crowd does not fully understand what Jesus is really offering and so, make a request for this bread. They are convinced that this bread is better than the bread their ancestors ate, but do not understand how or why. Jesus is available to them and yet, they cannot see. He gives the bread once for all and, in doing so, gives the bread always. This is why Jesus can assert that He is the bread of life. This is the first time in the Gospel of John that the “I am’ saying is followed by a predicate nominative “the bread of life”. John’s Gospel often uses this distinctive way of revealing who Jesus is. The symbols that are used by Jesus in these sayings come from human and Near Eastern religious experience. The use of these common, everyday symbols results in conveying to all who will hear that Jesus can satisfy both the base and higher needs of people everywhere. These symbols indicate that the mystery of Jesus cannot be captured by any one symbol and that Jesus cannot be put into a well defined category.
The saying also contains an invitation to come to him and be sated. Though, on the one hand, the invitation refers to a physical eating and drinking and so satisfying human hunger and thirst, on a deeper level, the invitation is to listen to Jesus’ teaching and see in him the revelation of God and so, the fulfillment of all human needs.
Bread is the staple of many people all over the world and is used to represent the basic needs of people. By use of this symbol, Jesus reveals that his mission is to be available to all and for all. He does not belong exclusively to any one group and no group can ever capture him fully. He is available to all who are open to the revelation that he continues to make. The primary form that this revelation will always take is the form of love.