The Gospel according to John 12:44-50
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”
Opening Prayer: O God, life of the faithful, glory of the humble, blessedness of the just, listen kindly to the prayers of those who call on you, that they who thirst for what you generously promise may always have their fill of your plenty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
Encountering Christ: Light and darkness, sight and blindness, action and inaction, many times in the gospel of John, we find references to these pairs of opposites. Those who accept the light, Jesus, are able to ‘see’ clearly, to understand. Without light, in total darkness, no one can do anything. The mystery, then, is why anyone would choose to remain in darkness? Why would anyone choose to be blind?
This passage is a summary statement, which comes at the end of Jesus’ public ministry. So it sums up everything Jesus has been doing and saying in public. It speaks therefore to the listening to His words and of acting upon them. His words are important, because they are indeed the Father’s words. Jesus is so closely connected to his message that in fact he is, in John’s Gospel, the ‘Word’ who became flesh.
The struggle between the powers of light and darkness dominate John’s gospel. Jesus’ mission is clear. He has come from the Father, bearing the light of his love, revealed by word and deed. Those who receive him walk in this light. Those who reject him stumble around in the darkness with no sense of direction.
There is a link between the term ‘to keep my word’ and Matthew’s phrase ‘to do my words’. What are the words, which require action? We ‘keep’ commandments, that we make and keep promises and vows. These are words of power, the words that shape our lives. But our actions define ‘who’ we are as Catholic Christians.
Jesus cried out aloud. He knows that the Father’s commandment, which he is carrying out, ‘is eternal life’ and he wants his voice to rise above the chatter of other voices around him. He wants to be heard in the darkness of every age. His voice is the voice of one who desires to save, not to judge.
Perhaps there is a negativity that the world projects about fathers that has confused us. Maybe we have been convinced by the devil’s lies that the Father doesn’t really love us or have our best interest at heart. The words of Jesus are trustworthy. Our Father in heavens love is the only love that is unconditional and without limits. If we could just live as if we believed in that one truth, we would be transformed and our salvation would be assured.
People worry about many things, from the very mundane to matters of life and death. When we worry, are we behaving like we have a Father in heaven who loves us more than we can imagine? If we are in his hands, what could threaten us? We need to embrace this truth, if we haven’t already because Our Lord is asking us to help others know the Father by our words and our actions.
Lord, your one desire is that I make my home in you and live in the Light. Shine in the dark recesses of my heart and bring all others and me to the fullness of life which you offer us.
Lord Jesus, I say the “Our Father” so often that it has become rote. Send your Spirit to enlighten me so that my faith in the Father grows stronger. I want to love the Father as you do.
Lord, today by your grace I will say the “Our Father” slowly with meaning, before the tabernacle if possible.
Closing Prayer: Graciously be present to us, we pray, O Lord, and help lead those of us you have imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from our old ways to the newness of life through the light of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.