I well remember one of my scripture teachers speaking about the gospel of St. John. He found it easier to use the passages throughout this gospel for his prayer rather than for his preaching.
In some ways that might speak to many people, since John’s gospel is marked by a number of longer discourses spoken by Jesus which are not so easy, to sum up briefly but rather call for reflection and invite us to ponder them so as to discern their meaning.
That seems true for our reading today with its many statements each containing a truth for us to wonder about.
So perhaps today we can approach the reading in two ways.
Firstly, we can simply stay with the words of our gospel and allow them to lead us into a time of reflection and prayer. Thus I invite you to read slowly over the words of the text and to hold them in a more prayerful way. Sometimes we are helped in this exercise by gently re-reading the text or by repeating to ourselves those phrases s or words that resonate and which seem to stay with us.
Let yourself then stay with the prayer and sharing with God that follows.
Alternatively, a second approach may suit if we prefer to look more deeply at the message that the gospel proclaims. In this case, then let us focus on just one or two points of reflection.
We might notice that today Jesus speaks to us of his mission which was to come to us and to proclaim the truth on behalf of God – a truth that is given to us and which invites us to accept it. The mission of Jesus begins in eternity and his earthly life brings this mission to its fulfillment – he is God’s witness and he speaks the truth of God.
Our response to this good news is one of faith. In our response to God we seek to raise up our whole self – mind, heart, will, strength and to make Jesus the center of our lives and his message our compass to guide all our actions in life’s journey.
And as today’s text also promises that ‘whoever believes in the Son has eternal life’. Here we can take confidence that God is faithful to us and that our faith will be rewarded. But faith is a gift not only for oneself but contains within it a dynamic that propels us to reach out to others. Here I think we can also hear an echo of the experience of the apostles in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles – such was their faith that it filled them with strength and opened them to the prompting of the Holy Spirit; so much so that they became witnesses to others and indeed their preaching ‘filled the whole of Jerusalem’. Perhaps we will not preach in that way, but our faithful lives can become a shining beacon to others and help to show them the way to Jesus and thus to eternal life.
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia.