Reflecting on the Gospel of John for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

From The Gospel of John, by Francis Martin and William Wright, commenting on John 16:12-15:

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The Church prescribes this reading for Trinity Sunday. The Trinity has everything to do with all aspects of Christian life. The Catechism states, “God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange” (221). This sharing is heaven. The Father sent his only Son to suffer, die, and rise, so that humanity could be restored to his friendship and enter into the divine communion. The Spirit has been sent to teach us, strengthen us, and help us replicate in our lives the same pattern of self-giving love that exists in God. Our task is to yield to the Holy Spirit, who makes the reality of God powerfully alive for us and draws us into communion with him through Jesus. In order to do this, we have to give up our sins and open ourselves up to God. The more attuned we become to the Holy Spirit by renouncing our sins and living a graced life of prayer and the sacraments, the more we will come to know the mystery of love that is the Blessed Trinity.

© 2015 Francis Martin, William M. Wright IV, and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

From The Gospel of John, by Francis Martin and William Wright, commenting on John 14:25-29:

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Throughout the Farewell Discourse, Jesus announces beforehand many things that will happen to the disciples (13:19; 14:29; 16:1, 4). Jesus has just told the disciples about the realities to be revealed at his resurrection, and he includes the future teaching activity of the holy Spirit. As the Father has sent Jesus, upon whom the Spirit descended (1:32–33), the Father will also send the Spirit in Jesus’ name and at his request (14:16). The Holy Spirit, who will dwell in Jesus’ disciples, will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.

There are several instances in the Gospel where disciples are said to remember episodes in Jesus’ ministry after his glorification (2:17, 22; 12:16). As this verse suggests, their remembering of Jesus’ ministry will be caused by the Spirit. It is not a simple recollection of the past but also a deeper understanding of Jesus and his work given by the Spirit—a spiritual understanding. The Spirit leads disciples into a greater understanding of the mystery of Jesus and makes it come alive for us.

Among his promises (14:18–24), Jesus includes the promise of his peace. Behind this mention of “peace” is the biblical promise of shalom (peace, wellbeing, everything is right), a blessing of reconciliation that God promised to bestow upon his people in his †eschatological act of salvation (Isa 52:7; 54:10–13; Jer 33:6–9; Zech 9:10). Jesus’ peace is a fruit of his relationship with the Father, into which he will bring his disciples. It is a supernatural peace that arises from a total love for the Father and therefore is unlike the peace of the world, which rejects God. Repeating his words of reassurance (14:1), Jesus calls the disciples to a confident, trusting faith and promises them the peace that comes from obeying the Father and knowing his love. We shall see this promise fulfilled in the Gospel account of Easter Sunday evening, when the risen Jesus gives the disciples his peace, which drives out their fear (20:19; see 20:26; 1 John 4:18). Paul similarly exhorts his readers, “Let the peace of Christ control your hearts” (Col 3:15).

Jesus continues to console his distressed disciples with the promise I will come back to you. He will return to them not only after his resurrection, not only at the †Parousia, but also during the present time through the Holy Spirit. While it may be very hard for them to grasp, the disciples should rejoice that Jesus is going to the Father. The Father is greater than Jesus in his mortal humanity, but at his resurrection and ascension, Jesus’ humanity will be glorified by the Father and become “greater” (see 14:12). Jesus’ entrance into heavenly glory opens up salvation and life with the Father, salvation and life for humanity (see Acts 2:33). Jesus has prophesied these things ahead of time, so that when they happen, the disciples may believe in him, believe that he is present to the Father and “has revealed him” (1:18).

© 2015 Francis Martin, William M. Wright IV, and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John for the Third Sunday of Easter

From The Gospel of John, by Francis Martin and William Wright, commenting on John 21-15-19:

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This exchange between Jesus and Peter provides much food for thought about the ministry of the pope and basic aspects of the Christian life, such as sin, repentance, and discipleship. When Peter denied Jesus three times, he rejected his relationship with Jesus. In this scene, which recalls Peter’s denials, we see the tremendous love and mercy of Jesus for Peter. Jesus makes the first  move and initiates the conversation with Peter. He invites Peter to repent and return to him by professing his love. With Peter’s threefold profession of love, his threefold denial is undone, and Jesus restores the relationship between them. Jesus’ mercy is so complete that he does not hold Peter’s past sins against him. Instead, Jesus gives Peter the honor and responsibility of serving as the delegated shepherd of his sheep.
The same dynamics of repentance and forgiveness apply to all disciples, for Peter is still a sheep in relation to Jesus. No matter how serious or how many the sins we have committed (Peter’s were very serious), the love and mercy of Jesus is infinitely greater. He seeks us out and invites us to return to him. This scene should give us confidence that when we seek reconciliation with Jesus, he forgives us completely and forever. As Pope Francis has beautifully taught, God  “does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart.”

© 2015 Francis Martin, William M. Wright IV, and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Reflecting on the Gospel of John for the Second Sunday of Easter

From The Gospel of John, by Francis Martin and William Wright, commenting on John 20:20:

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During the Farewell Discourse, Jesus told his disciples that they would “weep and mourn” (16:20) and be “in anguish” (16:22) when he left them. He also reassured them, “I will come back to you” (14:28) and “you will see me” (16:16).

Now Jesus fulfills this promise: he came and stood in their midst. And he speaks the words of shalom, the †eschatological reconciliation between God and his people: Peace be with you (see Isa 52:7; 57:19). Before he departed, Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. . . . Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (14:27). The risen Jesus now gives the disciples the gift of his peace, which drives away their fear, for he incorporates them into communion with the Father. !rough his cross and resurrection, Christ has “conquered the world” (16:33) and its ruler (12:31), and he has made his disciples “children of God” (1:12). There is, then, no reason for his disciples to fear. The presence of the wounds of crucifixion on the risen Jesus’ body is significant. They indicate that the body resurrected to glory is the same one that died on the cross (see Luke 24:39).14 Resurrection is not the return of a human being to ordinary mortal life but total transformation into a glorified mode of existence. As St. Paul wrote, the natural body is transfigured by the Holy Spirit into a glorified, “spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:44). The wounds on Jesus’ resurrected body reveal that he is forever fixed in the act of love in which he died. The love and sacrifice that he offered on the cross are forever present before the Father as “expiation for our sins, and . . . for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Jesus’ wounds also signify that the victory of the resurrection comes only through the cross. Similarly, the Lamb in the book of Revelation bears the wound of his slaughter by which he accomplished the work of redemption (Rev 5:6, 9). In this way, St. Thomas Aquinas, drawing on the Venerable Bede, can speak of the wounds on Jesus’ resurrected body as “trophies” of his victory.

Donatien Mollat found significance in John’s use of the verb “showed.” After the temple incident (2:14–17), the †Jews asked Jesus to “show” them a sign to legitimate his words and deeds (2:18). Jesus responded with a statement about raising up the temple of his body (2:19). Now, when Jesus shows the disciples his risen body with its wounds, he provides the †sign that legitimates his words and deeds: his resurrection.

 

© 2015 Francis Martin, William M. Wright IV, and Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.