Daily Gospel & Reflection
Sunday of The Sixth Sunday of Easter
From Bishop Robert Baron of The Word on Fire
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to send us the Spirit of Truth who will make us intimate friends of God. The Holy Spirit is the love shared by the Father and the Son. We have access to this holy heart of God only because the Father sent the Son into the world, into our dysfunction, even to the limits of godforsakenness—and thereby gathered all of the world into the dynamism of the divine life.
Those who live in Christ are not outside of God as petitioners or supplicants; rather they are in God as friends, sharers in the Spirit. And this spiritual life is what gives us knowledge of God, a knowledge, if you will, from within.
When the great masters of the Christian way speak of knowing God, they do not use the term in its distanced, analytical sense; they use it in the Biblical sense, implying knowledge by way of personal intimacy. This is why St. Bernard, for one, insists that initiates in the spiritual life know God, not simply through books and lectures, but through experience, the way one friend knows another. That knowledge is what the Holy Spirit facilitates.
Daily Gospel & Reflection
Monday of The Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel Jn 14, 21-26 Jesus said to his disciples: "He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the man who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him and reveal myself to him." Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, why is it that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered: "Anyone who loves me will be true to my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our dwelling place with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words. Yet the word you hear is not mine; it comes from the Father who sent me. This much have I told you while I was still with you; the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will instruct you in everything, and remind you of all that I told you."
Commentary on John 14:21-26 The Farewell Discourse begins by Jesus telling the disciples that he will not be with them much longer. This causes great anxiety of their part, and so in the beginning of the Farewell Discourse Jesus comforts them by explaining that eventually they will be reunited. How? Jesus is going to “his Father’s house”. He will prepare a “place” or “room for them in “his Father’s house”. Then he will return to them and take them to “his Father’s house”.
One way to understand this reunion is that it will take place at the Second Coming when Jesus returns and brings his disciples to “his Father’s house”, heaven. But as Jesus explains in in today’s gospel there will be another reunion with them much sooner for both He and the Father “will come to him and make our dwelling place with him”. In this verse Jesus is referring to the mystical indwelling of the Father and the Son in the heart of the believer. In Greek the word for “dwelling place” here is the same word for “dwelling place” earlier in this chapter. This reference to the indwelling of the Son is similar to what Jesus said in verse 20: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.” In the next chapter of the chapter of the Farewell Discourse Jesus develops this idea even further in the parable of the Vine and the Branches: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit (Jn 15:5). As a branch shares in the life of a vine so we share in the life of Christ who dwells within us.
The gospel of John envisions a two part reunion between Jesus and his disciples. We will be with him at the end of time, but in a mystical way we are united with him even now as we share in his life. He remains in us and we remain in him.
But as Jesus also explains in this passage Christ can only dwell in the heart of the person “who loves me and will be true to my word”. There must be a loving relationship between ourselves and Christ in which we are obedient to his “word”. Obedience to his “word” is essential because he has received his “word” or teaching from the Father.
This passage show that love of Jesus is not a feeling, but an action. It doesn’t matter how much love we say that we have for Jesus in our heart. What matters is if we are obedient to his “word” in our actions. True love for Jesus is more than a feeling. It also involves obedience to his “word” in our actions.
Reflection From Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to inspire, strengthen, and defend his followers. Speaking to his disciples the night before he dies, Jesus tells them that he and his Father will send another Parakletos. The word, from kaleo (to call) and para (for, or on behalf of) designates something like an advocate, a lawyer, someone who would plead on behalf of another, who would support, advocate, and encourage.
Jesus will depart physically from the scene, but he and his Father will send their Spirit as a friend. This is the supporter, the advocate who will inspire Christians up and down the ages.
When the martyrs went to their deaths, it was with the help of the Holy Spirit; when the missionaries went to proclaim the faith in hostile lands, it was the Holy Spirit who pleaded on their behalf; when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Ceiling, it was the Holy Spirit who lifted him up; when Thomas Aquinas wrote his theological masterpieces, it was at the prompting of the Advocate. What is the Advocate prompting you to do today?
Reflection from The Word Among US
What happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world? (John 14:22)
Why did Jesus spend so much time focusing on his closest disciples? Wouldn’t it have been more efficient for him to reveal himself to “the world” in a big way? He could have summoned political and religious leaders to witness his resurrection in a blaze of cosmic glory that would leave no room for doubt. Was he possibly missing his chance to reach the whole world in one grand spectacle?
There’s no doubt that Jesus loves every single person and wants everyone to come to know him. But just as it was when he walked the earth, he has chosen to reveal himself on a small, personal scale. No grand, once-and-for-all gesture will accomplish what he wants to do; only many daily small ones will make him known.
Think about it. When God came to us as a helpless baby, he showed that he wanted to be one of us and one with us. Rather than overpowering humanity as a mighty, cosmic Lord, he quietly connected himself to a family and spent years building relationships with Mary and Joseph and his fellow Nazarenes. Then when he called his disciples, he did the same thing. He forged a relationship with them—a relationship that taught them to love as he loved, a relationship that turned them into living examples of his mercy.
Jesus is still using the same strategy today. He is revealing himself “to the world” through relationships—our relationships with the people around us. Every time we reach out to someone, he is reaching out through us. Every time we offer someone words of encouragement or understanding, he is speaking through us. It’s in our simple, everyday acts of love that Jesus can shine through the brightest.
Now, we know that we aren’t perfect. We know that we don’t always act as Jesus would have us act. But Jesus has taken care of even this wrinkle in his plan. He has chosen to reveal himself in an especially powerful way every time we forgive each other and make amends.
So yes, Jesus is revealing himself to the world—through you!
Daily Gospel & Reflection
Tuesday of The Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel Jn 14, 27-31 Jesus said to his disciples: "'Peace is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives peace. Do not be distressed or fearful. You have heard me say, 'I go away for a while and I come back to you.' If you truly loved me you would rejoice to have me go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I tell you this now, before it takes place, so that when it takes place you may believe. I shall not go on speaking to you longer; the Prince of this world is at hand. He has no hold on me, but the world must know that I love the Father and do as the Father has commanded"
Commentary on John 14:27-31
At the Last Supper in John and after Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples, he announces to them that he will be leaving them (Jn 13:33). They are of course “distressed” and “fearful” by this news of his departure. In the Farewell Discourse which follows in chapters 14-17 Jesus speaks to them about this departure.
One reason that their hearts should not be distressed as we heard in yesterday’s selection from the Farewell Discourse is that soon he will return to them as both He and the Father will make our “dwelling” in the heart of the believer (14: 23). He and the disciples will not be separated for long because he will mystically dwell in their hearts.
Here we are given another reason why they should not be “distressed” that Jesus is leaving because the “Father is greater than I”. It is always a sign of love when our first priority is the wellbeing of the other person. He says the Father is greater than he, in the sense that as Father he has a kind of priority and is the ultimate source of all that is, though the Son does share all that with the Father and the Spirit. It is obvious that Jesus’ place is with his Father. His disciples, if they love him, will know that and let him go.
And as we heard in our gospel from yesterday, it is in the disciple’s interested that he returns to the Father because once he does return he will send the Holy Spirit to them, the Advocate, “he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.” (14:26)
His farewell, then, includes a gift of peace. ‘Peace!’ (Shalom) is the normal Jewish greeting and farewell. When Jesus appears to the Disciples on the night of the resurrection in John 20 His first words to them are those of “peace” which he says twice. Originally it meant soundness of body but it came to signify perfect happiness and the wholeness which the Messiah was expected to bring. .
But it is not the peace as the ‘world’ understands it. Peace for Jesus is not simply the absence of violence. It is something much more positive, much deeper. Paradoxically, it can exist side by side with times of great turmoil. It is something internal, not external. It comes from an inner sense of security, of a conviction that God is with us and in us and that we are in the right place. It is something which not even the threat of death can take away. It is something that the departure of Jesus cannot remove.
How can we attain the peace which the Lord Jesus offers his followers? Through the gift and work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, the Lord Jesus shows us how to yield our passions of anger, fear, and pride to him so we can receive his gift of peace. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and strengthens us with his gifts and supernatural virtues which enable us to live as wise and holy disciples of Christ.
The end is near. “The prince of this world is at hand.” But they are not to worry. The powers of evil are limited in what they can do and all that happens to Jesus is simply a manifestation of his great love for his Father and his desire to follow his Father’s wishes. Because, by undergoing what faces him, Jesus will be communicating to the world the tremendous love of the Father for each one of us.
From Bishop Robert Barron of The Word on Fire
Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us an antidote for fear. Whom or what are you afraid of? That is a very important spiritual question. One way to understand our life is to look at those things that we seek: wealth, power, privilege, honor, pleasure, friendship. But another way is to turn that question around and determine what or who it is that we fear.
We might fear the loss of material things, the loss of a job, the loss of physical health, the loss of the esteem of others, the loss of personal intimacy, and ultimately, the loss of life itself. We are afraid of many things, but I’d be willing to bet that there is a primary or principal fear. What is it for you?
Now after identifying that, listen to Jesus: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” Any and all of the things that we customarily fear—loss of money, fame, pleasure, and power—have to do with this world. What Jesus is saying is that we should not let those fears come to dominate or define our lives, for he is with us—and with him, his peace.
Daily Gospel & Reflection
Wednesday of The Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel Jn 15, 1-8 Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine and my Father is the vinegrower. He prunes away every barren branch, but the fruitful ones he trims clean to increase their yield. You are clean already, thanks to the word I have spoken to you. Live on in me, as I do in you. No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, can you bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing. A man who does not live in me is like a withered, rejected branch, picked up to be thrown in the fire and burnt. If you live in me, and my words stay part of you, you may ask what you will -- it will be done for you. My Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit and becoming my disciples."
Commentary on John 15:1-8
Perhaps there are some of us who have never seen a vine (although we may be well versed in our wines!). But what Jesus says about the vine – a plant very common in Palestine – can be said about any fruit-bearing tree that we are familiar with and the message is clear.
Jesus is explaining to us what our relationship with him can be like and indeed should be like. He compares himself to a tree, basically to the trunk of the tree. The cultivator of the tree, the one who gives it life, is the Father God. Jesus’ disciples are the branches.
It is the branches which bear the fruit.
If a branch does not bear fruit, it is simply cut off. It is no good; it is just draining life from the trunk without giving anything in return. It is very easy for us to be that kind of Christian. We come to church in search of “handouts” but give very little back to the community.
But, even the branches which do bear fruit, are pruned, have parts cut off, so that they will bear even more. Those who cultivate fruit trees or roses are familiar with this process and know how important it is.
What does this pruning consist of? Jesus explains: “You are pruned already, by means of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide, stay in me, as I abide and stay in you.” We are pruned, then, by our total identification with everything that Jesus stands for and by constantly cutting out of our lives everything that is contrary to the spirit of Jesus.
This involves a certain kind of asceticism, a denying of some of our natural appetites. This becomes easy as we are more and more overtaken by the vision of life that Jesus offers to us. We give up those non-Christlike things gladly and willingly. It becomes our deepest happiness and even pleasure to be always in Christ.
It is clear from what Jesus says that only those branches which are connected to the trunk can bear fruit. “Cut off from me you can do nothing.” Without fruit we are dead branches but, on the other hand, the fruit is not just of our own making. It is the sign that Christ is working in us and through us.
The most outstanding fruit of all is, of course, the love we reveal in our relationships with God and with people. “By this will all know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another.”
Separated from Christ – always the result of our own choice – we are like a branch that has fallen from the tree. We wither. Such “branches are collected and thrown on the fire, and they are burnt”. Such separation is not physical. It is a separation of identity. It comes from rejecting or refusing to accept the Way of Jesus as our way of life. It is a rejection of life and the choice of alternatives which can only lead to decay and death.
Finally, there is the great promise. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you shall get it.”
This is not to be interpreted as some kind of blank cheque, such as asking to win the first prize in a lottery or to have one’s enemy wiped out or to be cured of a terminal sickness.
The promise is prefaced by an important and essential condition: we need to be IN Christ and to have our lives totally guided by his “words”, that is, his teaching, his vision of life. And, if we are with him, our prayer inevitably will be to be more deeply rooted in him. Because he is the Source of all life and all Meaning in life.
From Bishop Robert Barron of The Word on Fire
Friends, our Gospel passage today is from the beautiful, evocative, and challenging fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. Jesus declares that he is the vine and we are the branches. He is the power and energy source in which we live. This image is closely related to Paul’s metaphor of the body of Christ.
The point is that we live in him and he in us. Jesus is the source of supernatural life in us, and without him, we would have none of it. If, therefore, you are separated from the vine, you will die spiritually, you will stop living a supernatural life. What does this look like concretely, to be attached to the vine? It means a steady immersion in the prayer of the Church. It means steady communion with God, speaking to him on a regular basis. It means an immersion in the Scriptures, soaking in the truth of the Bible. It means engaging in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
And, of course, it means you must participate in the sacraments—especially confession and the Eucharist. By the sacraments, we stay close to the Christ who forgives our sins and who enlivens our spirits.
Daily Gospel & Reflection
Thursday of The Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel Jn 15, 9-11 Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love. You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and live in his love. All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete."
Meditation: Do you know the love that no earthly power nor death itself can destroy? The love of God the Father and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ is a creative, life-giving love that produces immeasurable joy and lasting friendship for all who accept it. God loves the world so much because he created it to reflect his glory. And he created each one of us in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). He wants us to be united with himself in an inseparable bond of unity, peace, and joy that endures for all eternity. That is why the Father sent his Son, the Lord Jesus, into the world, not to condemn it, but to redeem it from the curse of sin and death (John 3:16-17). Paul the Apostle tells us that we can abound in joy and hope because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).
Through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, God offers pardon for all of our sins and failings, and he calls us to lay aside everything that might hold us back from loving him above all else. We owe him a debt of gratitude and love in return. We can never outmatch God because he has loved us first and has given himself to us without measure. Our love for him is a response to his exceeding mercy and kindness towards us. In God's love alone can we find the fulness of abundant life, peace, and joy.
A new commandment of love
The Lord Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment - a new way of love that goes beyond giving only what is required or what we think others might deserve. What is the essence of Jesus' new commandment of love? It is love to the death - a purifying love that overcomes selfishness, fear, and pride. It is a total giving of oneself for the sake of others - a selfless and self-giving love that is oriented towards putting the welfare of others ahead of myself.
There is no greater proof in love than the sacrifice of one's life for the sake of another. Jesus proved his love by giving his life for us on the cross of Calvary. Through the shedding of his blood for our sake, our sins are not only washed clean, but new life is poured out for us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. We prove our love for God and for one another when we embrace the way of the cross. What is the cross in my life? When my will crosses with God's will, then God's will must be done. Do you know the peace and joy of a life fully surrendered to God and consumed with his love?
"Lord Jesus, may I always grow in the joy and hope which your promises give me. Inflame my heart with love for you and your ways and with charity and compassion for my neighbor. May there be nothing in my life which keeps me from your love."
copyright (c) 2017 Servants of the Word, source: www.dailyscripture.net, and author Don Schwager
From Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, the two most important words in our Gospel today are joy and commandments. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” And “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” These are not terms that we would readily juxtapose. We usually associate commandments with the carrying out of duty and responsibility, or with moral rectitude, and that normally seems opposed to joy.
However, in Thomas Aquinas’s treatment of human behavior, the first question raised is not about law or virtue, but rather joy. Thomas wonders what the nature of true happiness is. What all of us seek, whether we are young or old, Christian or non-Christian, male or female, rich or poor, is joy.
The whole point of the moral life is to make us happy. So how do we become happy? Thomas’s answer, which is in line with the great tradition, is through the proper ordering of one’s desire, through learning how to desire the right things and in the right way. And that’s precisely what Jesus commands us to do.
Daily Gospel & Reflection
Friday of The Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel Jn 15, 12-17 Jesus said to his disciples, 'This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down onés life for onés friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you I no longer speak of you as slaves, for a slave does not know what his master is about. Instead I call you friends, since I have made known to you all that I heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit. Your fruit must endure, so that all you ask the Father in my name he will give you. The command I give you is this, that you love one another."
Commentary on John 15:12-17
Jesus, speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper, continues to talk about the centrality of love. He expresses it in a central commandment: perhaps surprisingly to some, this commandment is not to love God, or to love Jesus, but to love one another. God does not need to be mentioned because that love is only possible when God is acting in and through us. That is the touchstone of the genuineness of our love for God. And the measure of that love is that of Jesus for us. If that is not clear enough, he spells it out: the greatest possible love a person can have is to sacrifice one’s life for one’s friends. That may mean dying for others but it can also mean living for others; in either case our primary concern is concern for the need of the brother or sister. And it is the only path to demonstrate that we love God and that God’s love is in us. Jesus shows that love by his own death for his friends. And who are his friends? They are those who do what he commands and what he commands is that we love each other to the same degree that he loves us. Earlier Jesus told his disciples, after washing their feet, that he was their Lord and Master, but now he also calls them his friends and not servants. Jesus is our Lord but he is also our Brother and our Friend. Because of that he has shared with us all he has received from his Father. Obviously, it is for us to share all we know about Jesus with others too. Finally, he reminds them that they are his followers, because he has chosen them; they have not chosen him. We do not confer any favour on Jesus by following him. We are only answering a call that has already come from him. And the response to that call is to “bear fruit”, lasting fruit. Our lives must be productive, productive in love, in caring, in justice, in compassion, in building up the world of the Kingdom. And we need have no fear. God is with us and everything we need will be given to us to become fruitful. And once again he repeats the core commandment: Love one another. How much of all this is descriptive of my life?
From Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire
Friends, today’s Gospel instructs us in the way of loving others with God’s love. The whole of the Christian life is on display here: God is love. In other words, God is a self-emptying gift on behalf of the other. But this means, paradoxically, that to have God is to be what God is—and that means giving one’s life away.
Now we see the link which Jesus suggests between joy and commandment: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Now we begin to understand the laws, commands, and demands of the Church. All are designed to make us more adept at giving ourselves away—more adept at love.
Don’t steal; don’t kill; don’t covet your neighbor’s goods or wife; honor your mother and father; worship God. All of these commands—positive and negative—are meant to awaken and make possible love.
Daily Gospel & Reflection
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Easter
Gospel Jn 15:18-21
Jesus said to his disciples:“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”
Commentary on John 15:18-21
Jesus has been urging his disciples to love all those around them as a sign of their love of him. Today he warns them that there is no guarantee that they will be loved in return. If they hated such a loving person as Jesus so bitterly, his disciples cannot expect to be treated differently.
And the reason they will be hated is because they will refuse to identify themselves with the values and priorities of the secular world. They will reject materialistic greed and competitiveness, the scramble for status and power, the hatred, anger, violence and revenge which mark so many people’s lives.
The most terrible thing to happen to Christians is for them to be loved by that world; it is a sign they have become part of it. “No,” says Jesus, “I chose you out of the world.” Once again he reminds them that the servant is not greater than his master. “They will harry you as they harried me. They will respect your words as much as they respected mine.” That is, hardly at all.
Some of us may find it difficult to understand this. We feel that the Church should be honoured and respected. We can get upset when we hear ourselves or our leaders rubbished in the media or hear of Christians languishing in jail or suffering torture simply for living their faith. But we are rightly proud of our martyrs and our courageous witnesses.
But there is a fate we often undergo in modern society which is far worse – when we are simply ignored and go unnoticed altogether. Our local church may be filled every week but what goes on there may have become completely irrelevant to the surrounding society. It is as if we did not exist.
It is also tragic when we find hate and division within our own community, which can be a major source of scandal to outsiders. And, of course, all through the history of the Church there has been sinful behaviour at all levels. We should not be surprised at that but it is particularly reprehensible when it goes on behind a veneer of moral superiority – the whited sepulchres that Jesus speaks about.
All of this compromises our witness to the love of God for his people everywhere. When any of these things happen, then we know we have really failed the Gospel.
Reflection from Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire
Friends, today’s Gospel balances our Easter joy with the warning of danger from a society opposed to God: “If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.”
It is altogether appropriate that, during this Easter season, we rejoice. The Lord is risen; he is truly risen. Jesus Christ is Lord. God is King. Sin and death have been defeated. All of that is true and remains centrally important during this season.
At the same time, we must not succumb to a “cheap grace” interpretation of Christianity, whereby Christ is risen and all is well. As Julian of Norwich said, “All will be well, all manner of things will be well.” Notice the future tense. The definitive battle has been won, but the war continues. The struggle is ongoing.