May 27, 2011
An Invitation from Jesus.
Is It even Possible?
This passage of John 14: 15-21 continues the passage we heard last Sunday from John 14: 1-12. Therefore, it may be helpful to review the setting of the conversation between Jesus and the disciples here.
This conversation takes place during the Last Supper. By this time, Jesus has told the disciples that one of them would betray him, and Judas has in fact left the group. Next, Jesus predicts that Peter would deny him three times. The rest of the disciples would also abandon Jesus. (For a more detailed discussion, see last week's commentary here)
To this very people, Jesus says, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
Our consolation is rooted first in the fact that Jesus knows us well, just as he knew his disciples then. He knows our weaknesses, shortcomings and even our sinfulness, yet he still gives us the commandment of love.
Secondly, it is not just a commandment by words. He lives that commandment of love and thus teaches us by example. At the beginning of the Last Supper, Jesus shows his love by washing the disciples' feet. His loves reaches completion when he gives his life for his beloved on the cross.
Thirdly, Jesus gives us help to live his commandment: " I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always."
Finally, Jesus brings us into the union with the Father, who is love. "Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” It is God who loves us, and who loves in us and through us.
May 21, 2011
Who Will I Be?
Though we read this passage today in the Easter season, it may help our appreciation and understanding of Jesus' words to go back to their setting.
In John's Gospel, these words form parts of Jesus' farewell speech to the disciples during the Last Supper.
More precisely, in Chapter 13, John recounts Jesus telling the disciples that one of them would betray him. Then Judas leaves their company while "it was night" (v. 30), a "[movement] away from the light into the darkness." 
Then a few verses later, Jesus tells Peter, "you will deny me three times" (v. 38).
One of his own will betray him. Another denies him. And the rest will run for their lives.
To these very people, Jesus declares, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
Will I be Judas or Peter? Will I run away from Jesus?
Or will I use Philip's words and pray, "Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us."
 Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 385.
Last Supper by Rubens (1632)
May 13, 2011
Where does the shepherd come from?
This passage, as proclaimed in church this Sunday, is somewhat taken out of context. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus is here engaged in a discussion with the Pharisees following his healing of the man born blind.  (There is only a brief sentence in the passage mentioning the Pharisees as Jesus' audience, "Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them" (v. 6).
Jesus has healed the man on a Sabbath. As a result, after the initial amazement, the Pharisees reject any possible divine origin of the healing and of Jesus himself.
Most significant for our understanding of Jesus' words referring to himself as "the gate for the sheep" is probably the Pharisees' decision to throw the man out after he proclaimed his belief that Jesus was from God (9:34).
Now the distinction is clear between one who "enters the sheepfold through the gate" and one who "climbs over elsewhere," between the shepherd and a thief or a robber.
So, a true shepherd comes to us in Christ's name and leads us to God's pasture.
And as Christians, we are all called to share in Christ's mission of leading others to God. We can do that only through Him, in His name, and following his way.
 Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., The Gospel of John, Sacra Pagina series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1998; p. 289-291.
May 6, 2011
My Idea of God
In writing his Gospel, Luke makes it very clear that Jerusalem is the place where God's glory would be revealed in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Luke places the Transfiguration near the end of Jesus' ministry in Galilee. There, Luke introduces the "exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem." (9:31)
Then Luke begins the second phase of Jesus' public ministry with these words, which marks the turning point in his narrative of Jesus, "When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem." (9:51)
The next ten chapters cover Jesus' journey to Jerusalem, during which the destination is mentioned no fewer than seven times .
So, it is almost impossible for the two disciples, as well as the other followers of Jesus, to forget what Jesus has told them about his passion, death and resurrection.
But, doesn't it happen to us all. In times of sorrows, sufferings, disappointments, so often we forget God's loving presence and care for us. Our eyes can be "prevented from recognizing him" because we allow those things to control us.
The two disciples do not recognize the Risen Christ because He did not meet their expectations. They confess, "We we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel." And when reality does not meet their expectations, they could not believe in all those who have said otherwise.
And so, they give up and leave Jerusalem, the place where Jesus has led them so they could witness the power of God.
But God never leaves us to suffer alone, whether we recognize Him or not.
The Risen Christ continues to be with us as our companion on our journey, both directly and in our brothers and sisters. Note how the two disciples have each other both in times of sorrows before and times of jubilation after they have recognized Jesus.
The Risen Christ is present to us in the Scriptures. May our hearts burn within us when He speaks to us and opens the Scriptures to us.
And the Risen Christ is with us in His own body and blood in the Eucharist. Everyday, he takes bread, says the blessing, breaks it, and gives it to us. May our eyes be opened to recognize Him.
 Luke Timothy Johnson. The Gospel of Luke, Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 164.