Reading Guide for John 1:19-3:36
DAY 1:  Encountering Jesus, part 1.

 

1.  Read this first before you proceed with the “Lectio.”

 

                1.1.  The Purpose of the Gospel of John:  The author of the gospel states the reason for his writing his book(s) as follows:  “...these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name (Jn. 20:31).”  For John then, it was a matter of life and death that one has to know Jesus and to believe in Him.  “To believe” is not simply an intellectual act; it is rather the act by which I entrust myself to a Person.  What John intends is that his reader should come to know Jesus and to entrust his/her life to him that “he may have life to the full.”  To do otherwise spells death.  But “to believe in Jesus” implies a previous decision to be for Him.  It is this previous decision which -- if it has not yet been made --the reading of the Gospel helps the reader to formulate; where it has been made, the reading of the Gospel enlivens it and challenges it.

 

                1.2.  Overview of the Selected Passage.  We are skipping the Prologue of John (1:1-18) for pedagogical reasons.  We begin instead with the section that follows it so that we can immediately begin our Encounter with the Lord.  For the sake of convenience, we shall follow the division proposed proposed by Pheme Perkins in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary:[1]

 

Chapters and verses

Description of the Contents

1:19-51

John’s Testimony

2:1-12

Cana:  The Disciples See His Glory

2:13-35

Judea:  The Cleansing of the Temple

3:1-36

Nicodemus:  Birth and Eternal Life

 

                1.3.  The Voices of the Narrative.  All of the Gospels are confessions of the early Christians’ faith in Jesus in story form.  John is but the writer of a Church which had a particular experience of the Risen Lord, an experience deepened by the recollection of His earthly life and their worship of Him.  We can detect the voice of this community in 3:12-15, breaking into Jesus’ response to Nicodemus.  We can also discern in the narrative an interaction between the writer himself and his community on the one hand with their living memory of Jesus on the other, in 3:16-21 and 3:31-36 which explain the sections which precede them (3:11-15 and 3:27-28 respectively).  But above all, we have the voice of the narrator who tells the story of Jesus to us who have come after him in time.  This means that for us to Encounter Jesus, we must first accept the testimony of John and his community.  Their faith is the norm by which we measure our own, and it is through their memory that the Risen One becomes present to us.

 

2.  Read the Gospel passage slowly and attentively.  Do not look for hidden meanings in the text.  Simply jot down the words or phrases which strike you.  Above all, enjoy the text.

 

3.  Your first contact with the passage should help you get the feel of John’s text.  By now, you may have had the feeling that the author talks “funny” -- that he thinks and expresses himself differently from you or me.  The text is difficult; allow me to lighten it up a bit:

 

                3.1.  The Testimony to Jesus.  We come to Jesus through the testimony of others: this much you already know.  The story of how John the Baptist came to believe in Jesus and therefore to give witness to him presents a pattern for the way other believers can come to know Jesus  First, he saw a sign (a dove from heaven alighting on Jesus), then he heard a voice explaining to him the meaning of the sign (1:32)  And for this reason he can say:  “I saw and have witnessed that He indeed is the son of God!”.  The same pattern is to be seen in the call of the disciples, John’s version of which is quite different from that found in the Synoptic gospels.  Two disciples of John the Baptist, after paying attention to what their Master had to say about Jesus, get themselves invited by this latter.  After this encounter with Jesus, they too invite others to “come and see” the one whom they have come to recognize as the Anointed of God, the Christ.

 

                3.2.  The Attraction to Jesus.  What made the disciples of John the Baptist stay with Jesus?  What led the sarcastic Nathanael follow the lead of Philip and to eventually recognize the one from Nazareth as the “Son of God, the King of Israel?”  Was it simply the fascination that one feels towards a charismatic leader?  Later on in the gospel, Jesus himself will provide the answer:  “No one comes to me unless the Father draws him.”  Attraction to Jesus is itself a gift from God; it is a gift for those who have been chosen to believe in Jesus and at the same time, a gift of God to Jesus himself.  As John himself would state it:  “The Father loves the Son and has given everything to him. (1:35)[2]

 

                3.3.  Ambiguous Signs/Ambiguous Believers.  Belief in Christ, i.e. “seeing his glory” comes from a correct reading of signs.  The water turned into wine in the wedding feast at Cana was a sign which led some to believe in Jesus, but it remained ordinary wine -- albeit excellent ordinary wine -- to the headwaiter.  The temple that was to be destroyed and rebuilt after three days was, for the Jews an impossible feat.  For disciples, however, it was a sign -- to be understood only much later -- of the Resurrection (2:20-22).  Lastly, the Scriptures should have led Nicodemus, a “bible expert”  to understand the meaning of the signs wrought by Jesus (3:2);  and yet, he himself was not able to “see” their meaning, a meaning which John’s community has come to understand and to proclaim (3:11-15)..

                As with the signs, so too, those who believe or think they have come to believe in Jesus are not free from this ambiguity.  Jesus “knows his own”.  Hence, though many “believed on account of the signs Jesus wrought, He did not entrust himself to him.  For he knew what was in the hearts of men (2:23-25).

 

4.  For your journal entry, pick out the passage that strikes you, and with all simplicity, write the thought that crosses your mind about the Jesus whom you are about to get to know better in this retreat.


 

 

Reading Guide for John 4:1-45
Encountering Jesus, part 2.

 

 

 

 

1.  Overview of the Passage.  The story we are going to read is about a casual encounter with Jesus that ends up with a whole town knowing Jesus and his place in the plan of God’s salvation.  It contains certain elements found in John’s version of the call of the disciples (1:35-51).  Let the reader find out for herself how these elements are are put together in a new way by the gospel’s author in order to bring home a new message.

                The passage can be outlined in the following manner:

 

Chapters and Verses

Description of Contents

4:1-3

Introduction

4:4-26

A Samaritan Woman meets Jesus

4:27-30

Interlude

4:31-38

The Father’s Will:  A Fruitful Harvest

4:39-42

“The Savior of the World”

4:43-45

Conclusion

 

2.  The passage is a pattern of any true encounter with Jesus:  Jesus begins the encounter on the basis of a need; through His conversation, the other is led bit-by-bit into a deeper appreciation of His person until finally, the person who has come to know Him calls others to share in his/her experience of the Lord.  The Lord hungers for this kind of encounter:  it is his food, his sole passion.  For the fruit of such an encounter is the harvest (to put it in agricultural terms) that makes the farmer’s work worth doing.

Read the passage, paying close attention to shifts in conversation, change of characters and change of scenes.

 

3.  Instead of a “Guide for Reflection,”  let me direct the reader to a fictional reconstruction of the events narrated by John as seen by Jesus (cf. Separate Sheet)

 

4.  For your journal entry, try to put yourself in the place either of one of the disciples or the Samaritan woman (choose one) and write down what you feel about Jesus in this particular encounter.

 


From Wilfrid Harrington’s “The Jesus Story” (Claretian Publications: Quezon City) 1993, pp. 136-137.

 

 


Reading Guide for John 6:1-71
Knowing Jesus, part 2

 

1.  Overview of the Passage:  We left off with the story of a Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus.  That story ended up with a whole town coming to confess its faith in Jesus.  In this story, the whole issue of the signs that Jesus performs comes back to the fore.  At the same time, we find the people who think they already know Jesus draw away from him precisely from the moment that Jesus himself explains to them the meaning of the signs.

                Jesus reveals something of himself in explaining the meaning of the signs.  In this selected passage, then, we move from simple encounter to knowing Jesus.  “To know Jesus” means also deciding for or against him.  At the end of the story, Peter speaks for the remaining group of disciples, telling Jesus what they know of Him.  Would you be able to make Peter’s statement your own?

                The passage can be outlined thus:

Chapters and verses

Description of Contents

6:1-15

Feeding of the Five Thousand

6:16-21

Walking on the Water

6:22-40

Dialogue:  Jesus is the Bread from Heaven

6:41-51

Dispute : Jesus’ Origins

6:51-59

Dispute:  Bread is Jesus’ Flesh

6:60-66

Dispute:  Jesus loses Disciples

6:67-71

The Confession of Peter

 

2.  Directions for Reading.  Read the passage quickly but with attention, noting the following features of the text.

                2.1.  Places in the Story.  The story starts with the characters on a mountain (6:3.15); then it shifts to the sea (6:18) and across the sea (6:25).  In 6:31 the desert where the Fathers sojourned is recalled.  The last mention of a place is the synagogue (6:59), considered at the time as an extension fo the Temple.  The localities “mountain”, “sea”, “across the sea”, “desert” and “Temple” are revered Old Testament “motifs”-- they are reminders of the nation’s Passover from slavery to freedom, and their rebirth as a nation.  The evangelist uses these motifs to highlight the revelation of Jesus.

                2.2.  The “I Am” of Jesus.  If I would disclose something of myself to you, I would normally begin with the phrase “I am...”  When it became clear to Jesus that the people misunderstood the sign of the multiplied bread (6:4-15), he begins to reveal himself first to his disciples, then to the people, and finally to the Jews.  In these revelations, he uses the phrase “I am...” on the sea (6:20), in reply to those querying him about a sign (6:36). and in the dispute against the Jews (6:48.51).  [For the reader:  What words or phrases follow Jesus’ “I Am?”

 

3.  By Way of Exercise.  Copy the statements which Jesus makes in 6:31 -62 and try to see:

                (a)  What is Jesus in relation to God?

                (b)  What is Jesus in relation to man?

 

4.  To stay alive is a fundamental preoccupation of man.  How is Jesus related to this preoccupation?  Write your answer on your journal.


Reading Guide for John 10:1-11:44
Knowing Jesus, part 2

 

1.  Overview of the Passage.  The interior life of Jesus gradually unfolds before us not only because of the things he says about himself but also because of the way he acts towards whom he loves.  There are two stories in the present selection: (a) 10:1-42 and (b) 11:1-44.

 

2.  Read 10:1-42.  The Anointed of God (Christos, Messiah) is designated “Shepherd” of God’s flock.  In this passage Jesus claims that He is the Shepherd, the Good One (that is, “one according to God’s heart.  Cf. vv. 11-18).  A dispute occurs in vv. 19-39 when Jesus asserts -- albeit indirectly -- that the prophecy according to which God Himself will be shepherd of his flock (Ez. 34:11-16; Is. 40:11)is fulfilled in him (“I and the Father are one” v. 30).  The story concludes in the region of the Jordan river, where many come to believe in Jesus because of what the Baptist had said (vv. 40-42).

 

                2.1.  A Difficult Passage vv.34-37.  In countering the accussation of blasphemy to his claim “I and the Father are one,” Jesus quotes a passage from the Hebrew of Ps. 82:6 and from there demonstrates the legitimacy of his claim.  He was using here a rabbinic rule of interpretation according to which what is applicable to something of less importance is also applicable to something of greater importance (“From Light to Heavy”).  Since the passage in Ps. 82:6 was made to apply to God’s assistants in ruling the world, can it not also apply to the one whom God has Consecrated and Sent as an envoy into the world?

 

                2.2.  “I am the door...I am the Shepherd.  The mention of the door in v. 2 is further explained in vv. 7-8.  This assertion prepares for a later one:  Jesus is the Way.  Note once more the revelatory phrase “I am...”  Notice too that in the discourse about the Shepherd, three entities are present:  the Shepherd, the sheep and the Father (=the Master of the House).  All of these entities belong to the same household under the direction of the Father.  Pay attention to how they inter-act in the discourse.

 

3.  Read 11:1-44.  The story can be divided thus:

 

Chapters and Verses

Description of Contents

11:1-6

Introduction

11:7-16

The Meaning of Lazarus’ Death

11:17-27

Dialogue with Martha

11:28-31

Interlude

11:32-34

Jesus and Mary:  The Way to the Tomb

11:35-44

The Resurrection of Lazarus

                3.1.  In the previous chapters, we have read Jesus’ claim that he gives life: as the Bread from Heaven and as the Good Shepherd, among others.  The issue in this story is how does he give life:  does he give it by preventing death? or shall he give it at the end of time?  The dialogues with Martha and Mary prepare the reader for the answer.  Jesus gives life NOW.

                3.2.  Notice how the evangelist insists that Jesus loves Lazarus.  Even at the death of this latter, Jesus’ love for him cannot be hid (vv. 35-36).  Can we perhaps say, on the basis of the story’s conclusion, that it was a love that was stronger than death?  Notice too that in v. 34, the invitation “Come and see” is for the first time, addressed to Jesus.  Is John perhaps saying here that the human situation of suffering is not beyond the concerns the Lord?

 

4.  After reading the passages, pick one that you find most suited to you and use it in imaginative prayer.  Afterwards, write down in your journal the insights that you’ve gained.


Reading Guide for John 15:1-16:33
Discipleship is Co-discipleship, part 1

 

1.  Overview of the Passage.  Being with Christ means participating in the communion that exists between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  The Christian community is an icon of the Trinity, and Christian discipleship is lived only within this context.

                The words that you are about to read constitute the last will and testament of Christ.  Knowing that his time has come to return to his former glory, he tells his disciples that his physical absence can become an occassion for a deeper union with him.  Thus, he tells those who has remained with him since the beginning to remain in him

 

Outline of the Passage.

 

Chapters and Verses

Description of Contents

15:1-8

Introduction:  “Remain in Me”

15:9-15

“Remain in My Love”

15:16-17

“I have loved you, therefore I chose you...”

15:18-25

Consequence of election:

Hatred of the World

15:26-16:15

The Paraclete

·      15:26-16:7

·      16:8-11

·      16:11-15

·      The Assurance of a Paraclete

·      To the World, He is a your Defender

·      For you, he is the Door to the inner life of the Father and the Son

16:16-18

Interlude:  “To what period of time does this apply?”

16:19-28

Answer:  “From the time I leave to the time of my return.”

16:29-33

Conclusion:  Hope in the midst of Darkness

 

2.  Read the Metaphor of the vine carefully (15:1-8):

                2.1.  Note that the concept of communion in this metaphor has Jesus for its center:  the disciples are united to each other to the extent that they are united to Christ.

                2.2.  The glorification of God consists in (a) bearing fruit and (b) being the disciples of Christ (15:8).  The possibility of “bearing fruit” depends upon the disciple’s remaining in Christ (v.5).  Being a disciple of Christ implies having a special relation to his words (v.7).  Jesus is saying that if we want to glorify God, we have to remain in Him and allow his words to remain in us!

                But how do we do this?

 

3.  Read 15: 9-15:

                 The words of Jesus.  The words of Jesus -- understood in the context of John -- should be understood as referring to all his discourses as found in the present gospel; he, however, has one special word, his commandment:  “Love one another as I have loved you (v. 12)”.  It is worth of note that here Jesus goes beyond the ordinary master-disciple relationship which is normally characterized by obedience (attentive listening and doing).  The criterion of acting is no longer the authority of the Master, but the love he shows to his friend-disciples (vv. 12-13)..Further, Jesus goes beyond what professional teachers do when he says:  “All that I’ve heard from the Father, I revealed to you (v.15)” for by doing so, he is inviting his friends to share in the intimate relationship that he has with His Father.  The words that Jesus speak are the words which he shares intimately with the Father; to remain in his words is to enter into that relationship.

 

4.  Read the remaining passages and note the following:

                4.1.  The in-between time.  All that is being said here in these passages is applicable to the period between Jesus’ restoration to his former glory (the Death and Resurrection) and his final return (the Parousia).  It is a time of sadness for the disciples, a time of suffering due to the hatred of the world.  But it is a time too of accessibility to the Father such that whatever they ask in Jesus’ name, will be granted to them (16:23-26).  But though this period will be a time of grief and suffering,. it won’t be totally devoid of joy.  For it too will be a time characterized by the presence of the Spirit.

                4.2.  The Paraclete.  As the name itself indicates, he is the “One who stands with the one who is called up (para klhtoV)”  In a court of law, the “paraclete” functions as defense attorney.  He defends the believer against the world that puts him in judgment (6:6-11).  At the same time,  he is one who gives paraklhsiV (=encouragement, comfort, solace)[3].  He will do this by reminding the disciples of all the words that Jesus has told them (cf. 14:26) and to help them have a deeper understanding of such words (15:13).  Since we already said that the words of Jesus are the words of his intimate relationship with God, this can only mean that through the Spirit of truth, a deeper intimacy with both Father and Son will be effected.  Thus the group of believers won’t feel alone, for they will continue to share in a life of intimacy that cannot be found in this world.  Let me illustrate it thus:

 

 

 

In this illustration, the gray circle represents the Spirit who allows the group of disciples (bowling pin-shaped figures) to enter into the intimate life of Father and Son.

 

                4.3.  The injunction to love one another becomes imperative in a world that hates the group of disciples (15:17).  Why is this so?  Write your answer in your journal.


Reading Guide for John 17
Discipleship is Co-discipleship, part 2

 

1.  Overview of the Passage.  Scholars call John 17 the “Priestly Prayer of Jesus.”  It comes at the end of his final discourse.  The thematic strands that make up his speeches from chapter 14 to 16 find their conclusion.  It is Jesus’ prayer and therefore we find the pronouns I - you - they in this text.  “I” of course refers to Jesus, “you” to the addressee of the prayer (“The Father”), and “they” the ones for whom Jesus is praying.

                Interesting to note are the persons to whom the pronoun “they” refers to: (a) “the men whom you have given to me” (v. 9, cf. v.6); and (b) “those who have come to believe in me through their (“the men,” in v.6) word..”  A part of the prayer is dedicated to the apostles, while another part is for US (It is rather comforting to think that the Lord already had us in mind even before we were born, isn’t it?).  This is not to say however that the groups of apostles and us are categorized in this prayer, such that the prayer for the apostles no longer applies to us and vice versa.  The whole prayer (except 17:1-5) applies “to those whom you (God) has given me (Jesus)” -- it is the description of both apostles and ourselves in this prayer (cf. vv. 6.9.10.12 and v. 24).

 

2.  The Outline of the Prayer

 

Chapters and Verses

Description of Contents

17:1-5

Jesus’ Prayer for Himself:  Father Glorify Me

17:6-19

Jesus’ Prayer for His Friends

·      17:6-11

·      17:12-19

·      “They were yours...”

·      “Keep them in your name...”

17:20-23

Jesus’ Prayer for the Succeeding Generations of Believers:

“That they be one...”

17:24-26

Jesus’ Prayer for all:  “That they be where I shall be...”

 

Read the passage attentively.  How does this reading contribute to your idea of “co-discipleship?”

 

3.  For your journal entry:

                3.1.   Reflect on the following words about Church communion...

“...that all may be one,

                just as you Father, are in me and I in you,

                so even they be in us

so that the world may believe:

                that you have sent me...”  (v.21)

                3.2.  Reflect on the following words about our participation in the sonship of Christ and its consequences for Church communion:

                “And I gave them the glory (cf. Jn. 1:14) which you have given me,

                                that they be one

                                as we are one,

                                (I am in them,

                                you are in me)

                that they be made perfect in oneness.

                that the world may know

                                that you have sent me

                                and that you have loved them

                                as you have loved me.  (vv. 22-23)

Reading Guide for the Gospel of John 18:1-19:42
“His Own did not Receive Him”

 

1.  Introduction.  The section we are about to read belongs to what scholars have called “The Book of Glory.”  It is in this section of the Hour of Jesus in which He makes the steps that would immediately bring him back to his former glory.  It is the Hour where, “raised up (on the cross, and in the Resurrection), that he draws all men to himself.”  But it is also the place where the men around Jesus are judged before His presence.  From the disciples to the Pharisees, to Pilate and the people of Israel -- all are judged before the “true light, the light that enlightens all men” (1:9).  Read the passage attentively, paying attention to what the following persons or groups of persons do and say in the story:

Peter

Judas

Pilate

The Crowds

The Soldiers

 

2.  Outline of the Section.

 

Chapters and Verses

Description of Contents

18:1-11

The Arrest of Jesus

18:12-14

Trial Before the High Priest

18:28-19:16

The Trial Before Pilate

19:16-30

The Crucifixion of Jesus

19:31-42

The Burial of Jesus

 

Read through the passages, noting the following:

 

2.1.  During his farewell speech, Jesus had said that he loved those who were sharing supper with them.  One of those would later betray him, another would deny him and the rest will abandon him.  Among these, only one will stand at the foot of his cross.

 

2.2.  In 18:28 - 19:16, Jesus is presented -- quite ironically as the King of Israel.  Try to see how this is presented, keeping close watch on the details.

 

2.3.  At a certain point in the trial before Pilate, Jesus is presented to the people as “The Man” (cf. 19:6)  Can you connect this man to the one about whom Isaiah spoke?

The crowds were appalled on seeing him

-- so disfigured did he look

that he seemed no longer human --

...

Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,

like a root in arid ground.

Without beauty, without majesty

            he seemed to us,

He had no looks

            that attracted our eyes;

a thing despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,

a man to make people hide their faces

he was despised and we took no account of him.

 

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,

ours the sorrows he carried...

he was pierced through for our faults,

crushed for our sins.

On him lies a punishement that brings peace,

and through his wounds, we are healed (Is. 52:14-53:5)

 

2.4.  Again, during the trial before Pilate, two sons of the Father , Barabbas[4] and Jesus are presented to the people of Israel.  Imagine the scene and hear the crowds shout as they choose between the two.  Note that in this choice, the Fathers too are chosen in their sons.

 

3.  Take one of these scenes for your imaginative prayer:  be creative in building up your characters.  Do not forget to include yourself among them.  Jesus said he loved his disciples, calling them literally “his own” -- that is, those who had a special place in his heart.  Feel this love as you relive in your memory his suffering and death.

 

4.  A final note.  Spend some time rereading the section on the denial of Peter (18:12 -27).  Note that Peter would seem to follow Jesus until the end.  And yet, in that dark, cold night as he stood by the light, while Jesus was saying to his accussers “Ask my hearers what I taught; they know what I said” (v. 21), Peter -- he who had followed him and listened to his words -- would deny that he was Jesus’ disciple!

 


Reading Guide for the Gospel of John 20:1-29
“He gave them power to become children of God”

 

1.  Outline of the Passages:

 

Chapters and Verses

Description of Contents

20:1-10

The Empty Tomb

20:11-18

The Appearance to Mary Magdalene

20:19-23

The Appearance to the Disciples

20:24-29

The Appearance to Thomas

 

Read through the passages at least once.

 

2.  Re-read 20:19-23 “The Appearance to the Disciples” and use the following as your guided reflection

 

1.  “For they were afraid...” - The disciples had barricaded themselves behind closed doors expecting the worst.  The “Jews” were not only the political and religious leaders of the time who instigated the death of Jesus and who were expected to go after his followers too.  The “Jews” are representatives of a way of life and a way of thinking that is anti-Christ, anti-God, and anti-man.  Earlier, you tried to get in touch with yourselves, with your fears, doubts and anxieties.  These fears, doubts and anxieties you hold in common with all the “disciples” of the world.  Try to put yourselves now in the situation of the disciples:  Each of us is afraid.  What are the barriers that we use to protect ourselves?

 

2.  “Jesus came and stood in their midst...” - Jesus comes to those he calls “his own” -- those whom he values because he loves them.  “He had given proof of his boundless love in embracing the Cross and offering himself as a sacrifice of redemption for all mankind.  ‘No one,’ he had said, ‘has greater love than this:  to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (Jn. 15: 13).”  No barriers can stop that love from meeting the beloved.  Jesus wants to remain with his friends: as he had stood in their midst before his crucifixion, so now, in the power of the Resurrection, he once more stands in their midst, never to leave them.

 

3.  “Peace be with you...” - On the night before he died, Jesus said:  “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I do not give it to you as the world gives it.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (Jn. 14:27)”.  Jesus’ peace is not the peace that the world gives.  For it dispels all fear; it takes away our anxieties; it wipes away our doubts.  For the peace that Jesus gives is the peace that reconciles man to himself, to others and to God.  It is peace that restores wholeness.  The Risen Lord greeted the disciples twice.  The first time, it was to dispel the fear of the moment - the threat of the Jews.  The second time, he pronounces his greeting within the context of the commissioning of the disciples.  The disciples will now be sent out into the world as a flock of sheep in the midst of hungry wolves.  But Christ’s peace will accompany them even there.  Let us accept the Peace that comes from Christ.  Let it dispel our worries; let it quiet our troubled hearts.

 

4.  “The disciples rejoiced, seeing the Lord...” - The joy of the disciples result from an act of recognition.  They now recognize Jesus as “the Lord”.  They recognized him from the marks of his Death on the cross:  the nail marks on his hands and the wound of his broken side from which water and blood had flowed.  For the Christian, joy is not simply a feeling of lightness; it is something that rises from a heart that recognizes the love of the Lord, that experiences the Peace of Christ, that is filled up by the presence of the one true Master.  Christian joy is not that kind of joy that is stimulated from without; it comes from within.  It comes from faith.

 

5.  “And he breathed on them...”  As in the moment of creation, when God breathed his spirit into the man he had fashioned that it may become a living soul, so now, in the moment of man’s redemption, He who is One with the Father, recreates man.  In the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, man is “expressed in a new way.  He is renewed.  He is renewed! (RH, )”  On the night Jesus was arrested, the disciples ran away and went back “to their own” -- to their former way of life, to their former way of thinking.  On the evening of that same sabbath, they had hid themselves like Adam who hid himself from God.  But now, the Lord had come to seek his own and to remake them, to restore them to his fold, to bring them back to themselves, to being his disciples. 

 

6.  “Receive the Holy Spirit...” - The Spirit is the life-breath of Christ breathed into our nostrils, the gift of the Resurrection.  Jesus had already promised that the Holy Spirit will come to be the Comforter of his small flock, the Counsellor that will accompany them even in the midst of persecution, the force that will carry them even unto the ends of the earth.  The Spirit is with the Church.  The Spirit is with us!  Let us turn our gaze within and discover this gift.  It has been there all along, ever since we were baptized, but because of other concerns, we have not recognized it.  Allow this Spirit to blow with its power in and through us.

 

7.  “As the Father has sent me, so I now send you...” - The phrase is familiar; it is the theme of the World Youth Day celebrations that you are about to attend.  It is not just a phrase, it is an invitation; it is your call.  It is a call that comes from the Father’s heart and derives from his plan.  Through this phrase, the Lord is inviting us to be his co-workers in the mission of reconciliation, “the forgiveness of sins.”  Sin and guilt are dynamites whose explosions spread destruction and death.  These dynamites are made up, not of nitrogen, but of a threefold alienation:  alienation from self, alienation from others, alienation from God.  The dynamites have been diffused by the Death and Resurrection of Christ.  But not everyone knows it yet.  Our job is to point to Christ, our Reconciliation.  Our job is to let everyone know that in Him, the alienation that impels us to death is now negated.  Christ is risen! And so is man.  This is our message; this is the News we bring.

 

“Discipleship is a gift of the Resurrection”.  Think about it.



[1]The divisions are there simply as guides and should not be taken as absolutely normative.  The reader may use the divisions proposed in his/her preferred version of the Bible.  The division of Pheme Perkins was chosen for the simple reason that it is the one employed in the Bible commentary most accessible to the public.

 

[2]This is a commentary on John the Baptist’s remark:  “No one receives anything except what has been given him from heaven.” (3:27)

 

[3]From the verb parakaleuw = to encourage.

 

[4]Barabbas in Aramaic means “son of (his) Father”