A Daily Life of Service and Sacrifice

05-22-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

We need to remember that when we read from the Gospel of John, such as this weekend, we are reading a scripture passage which is written after a long time of reflection and living experience. John wrote his Gospel sometime between 90 A.D. and 100 A.D. In art John is symbolized as an eagle, mainly because he soars so high in his thoughts, expressions, and meaning. His Gospel begins with the eloquent words: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God …". We recognize that these starting words of John actually match up in theme and expression to the very first words of the Bible in the Book of Genesis. We discover in John that this special "Word" who was in the beginning with God, now begins his journey home to God. The journey of Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem is the journey of the Word made flesh returning home by his Death and Resurrection.

The high point of the journey of Jesus is his "hour." Throughout his Gospel, John continually quotes Jesus as referring to his "hour," the time when God is fully glorified in him. In reading John we find that he tells us of seven miracle stories with each one being a sign of who Jesus is. And then the Gospel story reaches Jesus' "hour": "Before the feast of Passover, Jesus realized that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father" At this point we begin the direct reading of the narration of Jesus' Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

In his narration of the Passion, the author John places the priestly prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper. This is when on the night before he died Jesus consecrates himself to the Father, whose glory he seeks. We learn that the Father is glorified in the mission and work of the Son. This is the journey which began in heaven and descended to earth and now will return to heaven again. The eternal unending circle will be completed. The one who has come to announce the Father will now return to the Father who sent him. The "hour" has finally come. Jesus also leaves the Apostles in God's (his Father's) hands as he has now given them all he can.

The apostles must remain in the world and not be of it. Jesus recognizes their strength and their frailty. In the Letter of Peter, so does Peter also recognize this truth. Our passage is at the end of Peter's letter and invites us to be worthy of the name Christian for Peter understands that a faithful Christian life will not be free of flaw and pain. In fact, choosing a union with Christ in the Holy Spirit includes a struggle and a measure of suffering. Peter restates in different words the beatitude, "Blessed are you when they insult you … because of me" (Matthew 5:11). Peter is convinced that with the confidence of faith those who suffer with Christ will also share in his glory.

Note most importantly that Peter urges a faith that endures in patience and that also acts in love. Our first reading offers an image of a small "church" that gathers and waits. We learn only that the Apostles and women have gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem to pray and wait. We are reminded in this reading that Jesus is the head and we are the body. In his death, we see ours; in his resurrection, our resurrection; in his ascension, our ascension; in his eternal life; our eternal life. In his daily life, we can see how to form our own daily life. His daily life of service and

sacrifice can show us how to live our daily life for others.