Jesus said to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, this One will guide you along the way of all truth.”
Jesus recognizes he has more to say than his friends can hear or bear. He cannot ready his friends fully for the future. His disciples are going to have to live into the mystery of his death, resurrection, and return to God.
People who face blindness report learning to use the white walking cane is difficult until eyesight is finally gone. As long as one can see, one continues to depend on the eyes. Perhaps similarly, Jesus’ friends can discover his Spirit guiding them only as they face problems and conflicts in his absence.
How do you experience the Spirit guiding you in your present life?
Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
The risen Christ sends us out into the world, empowers us with the Holy Spirit, and calls us to use our power according to his way and not the world’s. We are to listen and let go of control when we are powerful. We are to speak and act when we are powerless. Equally important is our challenge to intervene against injustice: we are to find ways for the Holy Spirit to empower those who are oppressed and powerless to speak the truth and to challenge those who are powerful to be silent and listen.
How can you move the people in your work, your family, or your ministry toward Pentecost?
If you enjoy this Gospel Reflection,
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so also you should love one another.”
After Judas leaves, Jesus teaches his new commandment. It turns on the little word as, the likeness to his own love that Jesus expects of his disciples. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Love for each other is how others will recognize Jesus’ followers. Our love for each other will reveal the one we follow.”
How does the community of faith to which you belong live out Jesus’ example and commandment?
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”
Sunday’s short gospel passage comes near the end of John’s gospel, chapter 10. Jesus knows us. This passage promises his followers will never perish. No one can snatch us from Jesus’ hand or his Father’s hand. These consoling promises make a comforting funeral gospel; our relationship with Jesus and his Father is infinite and eternal.
What insights into our relationship with God as believers do you find in the imagery of the good shepherd?
Sunday’s Easter scene preserves a snapshot of the original Christian community, small and intimate. It includes the eleven, Jesus’ mother, Mary Magdalene, and other people who have followed Jesus. They have accompanied Jesus to Jerusalem and witnessed him heal and teach.
This Easter community has no pastor, committees, governance, or finance reports – yet. The group encounters Jesus face to face, risen and present. Jesus knows their feelings and needs; he brings them peace and process for handling their conflicts.
A third time Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” So Peter said to him: “Lord, you know everything. You know well that I love you.”
Jesus answered, “Feed my sheep.”
The three repetitions remind us of the three times Peter denied Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. In that scene Peter, afraid for his life, refused to own up to any connection with Jesus. Here by the lake, Jesus asks him to affirm that they still stand together in love and mission. Jesus gives Peter a responsibility but not a superior role. Peter is to feed, tend, and love the community, not lord it over the flock.
How have Church pastors tended and nourished you?
Jesus said, “You became a believer because you saw me. Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.”
Thomas occupies center stage in the second half of Sunday’s gospel. Thomas’s doubt and subsequent faith parallel the mystery of how later generations of Christians grow into faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thomas touches Jesus’ hands, feet, and side for all of us who are not among the first witnesses.
In every believer’s life, the community’s faith sometimes must carry the doubts of an individual. By including the story of Thomas’s doubt and faith, John’s community challenges itself to faith in Jesus’ presence and absence.
How does the story of Thomas coming to faith resemble your own journey?
Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and Jesus appeared to her.
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”
Mary Magdalene hears a man she supposed to be the gardener speak her name. Like the sheep who know the shepherd’s voice in John 10, she recognizes Jesus’ voice. In John 20, the evangelist’s resurrection chapter, people come to faith in Jesus in multiple ways. The beloved disciple sees and believes. Mary Magdalene hears and believes.
Jesus commissions Mary Magdalene to tell his disciples he is risen. She is the first witness of the resurrection and the one sent to tell the others—the apostle to the apostles.
What do you hear in Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus that affirms your faith?
My son, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice! This brother of yours was dead and lives again. He was lost and is found.
In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, Luke holds up not only a model of conversion in the younger son but also a characterization of Jesus’ faithful and forgiving Father. The father in the parable does not wait for his son to arrive home but runs to meet him, embraces him, and kisses him lovingly.
The father never allows the son to finish the confession he has planned, which ends in asking to be a hired a hand. The son’s act of coming home acknowledges his new desire to reconnect as much as any words can say. The father restores him as a son with robe, ring, and sandals and sets a homecoming table for him.
But the elder son resents his father welcoming his brother home. Will he join the celebration as his father urges?
What does the father in the parable tell us about God?
Jesus tells a parable about a man who plants a fig tree in his orchard but finds no fruit after three years. The man tells the gardener to cut it down.
The gardener said, “Sir, leave it one more year while I hoe around it and manure it. Perhaps then it will bear figs. If not, you can cut down.”
Jesus’ parable of the fig tree reveals God’s hope and compassion for people. The gardener, who cares for each tree, pleads for more care and more time. Let it grow another year. A little loosening of the soil, a little more nourishment, maybe it will bear fruit.
In what ways are you like the owner of the vineyard? In what ways like the gardener?