Come and See: context

Ecce Agnus Dei - Francis Hoyland

Ecce Agnus Dei – Francis Hoyland

This coming Sunday is the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – the cycle of readings in which The Gospel according to Mark is the principal source of our Sunday gospels. That being said, our reading is from the Gospel According to John. In fact, regardless of which cycle of readings (A,B, or C), the “Second Sunday of Ordinary Time the Gospel continues to center on the manifestation of the Lord” with a gospel from John (General Introduction to the Lectionary, 105). It is done as a means of transitioning from the theme of “manifestation” highlighted in Epiphany to ordinary time readings – I suspect – because there are some years when the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the Monday following the Sunday celebration of Epiphany (when Epiphany Sundays falls on Jan 7th or 8th). The reading for the 2nd Sunday ensures the theme is continued in the simple verse: “We have Found the Messiah.” Continue reading

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Testimony: memra

prologue-johnIf the 4th Gospel is indeed more about how God reveals God’s self in the person of Jesus, then we need to realize that Jesus was not born into a time of theological vacuum. Jewish theology was robust and with a history of succeeding and competing rabbinic schools. The followers of Jesus and the people of his time were Jews who were raised and lived this theology. It provided the framework for their daily lives and shaped their expectations about the Messiah, the Anointed One, who was to come. Among the gospels, John’s is the writings whose work expresses the fulfillment of those expectations and provides the theology for those that would follow Jesus. The basis of the theology is evident from the opening: John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God…” Continue reading

Testimony: Gospel context

prologue-johnThe 3rd Sunday in Advent continues to feature John the Baptist as the herald and forerunner of the Messiah, using the 4th gospel. John the Evangelist has deftly changed the narrative presented in the Synoptic Gospels. Here in the fourth gospel the story of Jesus is not ultimately a story about Jesus; it is the story of God as God reveals God’s self in the person of Jesus. Thus the narrative is well placed in Advent at the head of the liturgical year: “In the beginning…Continue reading

So I send you: believing

john20 v21Thomas. Although many translations include “doubt” in v. 27 — and thus lead to the phrase “Doubting Thomas,” but there is no Greek word for “doubt” in the verse. The phrase do not be unbelieving, but believe contrasts apistos and pistos — the only occurrence of both these words in John. Simply put, the word does not mean “doubt” and Greek does not lack the equivalent words: diakrinomai, dialogismos, distazō, dipsychos, aporeō, and aporia. Lowe and Nida (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains) give three definitions for the adjective – pistos.

  • pertaining to trusting — one who trusts in, trusting
  • pertaining to being trusted — faithful, trustworthy, dependable, reliable
  • pertaining to being sure, with the implication of being fully trustworthy — sure

Thus apistos would be “not having trust or faith or certainty.” Continue reading

So I send you: receiving

john20 v21“Receive the holy Spirit” The sacred writer had already introduced the giving of the Holy Spirit in John 7 in a scene during the Feast of Tabernacles in which the Spirit is promised at a future time when Jesus was glorified. In the Fourth Gospel it is at the crucifixion that Jesus is glorified in that his willing obedience manifests the nature of God, which is love. It is there on the cross that Jesus deliver the Spirit into the world (19:30), symbolized immediately afterward by the flow of the sacramental symbols of blood and water. Continue reading

So I send you: mission

john20 v21Commentary. Meanwhile the disciples, still reeling from the events of the last three days, gather in the upper room. In Matthew 28:8, Mary Magdalene’s reaction to the encounter with Jesus was “fearful but overjoyed.” Perhaps this too is the experience of the disciples. All John tells us is that they were gathered together, hiding as it were, for fear of the Jews (v.19)

These are the disciples who scattered and fled at Jesus’ arrest, who stood at a distance from the cross, and in the case of Peter denied Jesus. These are disciples that upon seeing Jesus appear within the room would have likely experienced shame as they remembered all they had done and failed to do. Yet Jesus’ words are not words of recrimination or blame, his first resurrected words to the disciples as a group is “Peace be with you.Continue reading

So I send you: context

john20 v21John 20:19-31 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 (Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. 23 Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” 24 Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. Continue reading

An Interlude

prologue-johnVerses 9-18 are not part of our gospel reading for this 3rd Sunday in Advent (Year B), but let us at least summarize its content

The Word Incarnate (1:9–14) Attention is now fastened on the incarnation. Two points receive special emphasis: one is the astonishing fact that the Word of God, true God as he is, took upon him human nature, and the other is the even more astonishing fact that when he did this, people would have nothing to do with him. John is concerned that we should miss neither the good news of the incarnation of God, nor the tragedy of the human rejection of God. Continue reading

The Word Made Flesh

prologue-johnJesus was not born into a time of theological vacuum. Jewish theology was robust and with a history of succeeding and competing rabbinic schools. The followers of Jesus and the people of his time were Jews who were raised and lived this theology. It provided the framework for their daily lives and shaped their expectations about the Messiah, the Anointed One, who was to come. Among the gospels, John’s is the writings whose work expresses the fulfillment of those expectations and provides the theology for those that would follow Jesus. The basis of the theology is evident from the opening: John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Word was God…” Continue reading

Context in the 4th Gospel

prologue-johnJohn the Evangelist has deftly changed the narrative presented in the Synoptic Gospels. Here in the fourth gospel the story of Jesus is not ultimately a story about Jesus; it is the story of God as God reveals God’s self in the person of Jesus. Thus the narrative is well placed in Advent at the head of the liturgical year: “In the beginning…Continue reading