Jesus said, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them. To them we will come and make our home with them.”
This gospel tells us that when people live like Jesus, they discover the Father within them. We learn and relearn Jesus’ message from living it. Jesus comes as a friend, an equal who does not exempt himself from the conditions of human life but lives them to the end, facing death on the cross at the hands of empire.
What do you appreciate about Christians understanding themselves as friends of God?
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?
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?
“Father into your hands I commend my spirit.” After Jesus said this, he died.
How can a man who is crucified be God’s messiah who comes to save people and bring them new life? Jesus, who dies the death of a criminal, isn’t even powerful enough to save himself. The first Christian preachers had to face mockers’ questions: How can Jesus be the king of the Jews, the messiah of God, God’s chosen one? If he is, he would have the power to save himself or God would save him.
What are your questions about the Jesus’ crucifixion?
The topic of siblings usually provokes conversation. Siblings may consider some of us oldest children bossy even though parents might use the words dependable and responsible.
Many of us have the wild or special-needs brother or sister who absorbs more attention than the rest. This is the one who wrecks the car or who gets taken to the police station for spraying graffiti on garage doors or stays at a friend’s house without asking or telling.
My next younger sister needed constant attention to learn to speak because she was severely hard of hearing. Mother put all her teaching skills to use on constant phonics lessons. If Jan held her ears or suggested any of the rest of us were bothering her, we got a reprimand. Naturally my sister became very creative in using her ears against us – sounds as if I haven’t entirely let that go!
I’m the dutiful oldest child who spent a week retying the bamboo shades on the porch and painted the cattle sheds. I’m the one who could do errands the fastest.
I’m not the prodigal younger son in the parable Jesus tells this Sunday. I’m the older son who is supposed to celebrate the homecoming of my brother who hurt our father, wasted money on his wild friends, and lost everything.
How do you characterize yourself – more a wild, willful, wasteful child or more a responsible, obedient, dutiful child?
This excerpt from Sunday By Sunday is by Joan Mitchell, CSJ
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?
Sunday’s gospel takes us to a mountaintop for a God’s-eye view of things to come in the life of Jesus and his companions. In everyday life a mountain often symbolizes a struggle. We contend with mountains of paperwork. The demands of work and struggles against serious illness are uphill battles. Americans seeking professional or social achievement climb the ladder of success. People who are poor work to climb out of poverty.
On the mount of transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples experience neither success or vision but an overshadowing cloud. However, this is no ordinary cloud shielding them with its shadow from bright sun and providing coolness in the heat. This is the shekinah (sheh-KI-nah), the cloud of God’s presence that accompanied the people of Israel in the desert – the cloud that rested over the tent of meeting where Israel kept the tablets of its covenant with God, a cloud that is luminous by day and fiery by night.
This excerpt from Sunday by Sunday is by Joan Mitchell, CSJ
While Jesus was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly two men were talking with him—Moses and Elijah.
The dazzling, transforming light suggests divine presence. As he prays, Jesus’ inner life and light become transparent in his outward appearance, just as our values and commitments show through in our bodies over our lifetimes. His spirit and body are one. Two great prophets of Israel’s past come alive in Jesus’ consciousness to lead him on as he prepares to set his face for Jerusalem.
Who do you know whose spirit seems transparent in his or her face or body? What do you hope shows forth in you?