The answer is in our responsorial: “I will praise You, Lord, in the assembly of Your people.” The psalm, although it begins in desolation and includes a graphic foretelling of the gruesome details of the Crucifixion, ends in great hope. The Sufferer foresees life beyond the dreadful experience he is undergoing. He sees a time of rejoicing among God’s people, a time when “all the families of the nations shall bow down before Him.” Here, then, is a foreshadowing of the Church that will arise in Jesus as a result of His victory over sin and death in the Resurrection. The Sufferer promises to “fulfill My vows before those who fear the Lord”—a reference to Jesus’ frequent teaching that He would suffer, die, and rise again on the third day. When that happens, “the lowly [or “humble”] shall eat their fill”—a veiled reference, perhaps, to the Eucharistic banquet Jesus promised to those who believe in Him.
Jesus pondered this psalm as He died because it embraced both His suffering and His glory. He wanted to press on to the realization of what the psalm envisions. He could perhaps “see” in it the proclamation of His Gospel by the apostles, by Saul (St. Paul), and by His disciples in our own day: “Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice He has shown.” If this is what Jesus “saw” in the psalm, He died in peace.
Possible response: The psalm is, itself, a response to our other readings. Read it again prayerfully to make it your own.
Second Reading (Read 1 Jn 3:18-24)
This is actually a difficult passage to interpret definitively. Space does not permit us to go beyond seeing how St. John takes up in his epistle the teaching from Jesus he and the other apostles received at the Last Supper: those who desire to “remain” in Jesus, the True Vine, must believe in the Name of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another. The emphasis here is on keeping Jesus’ commandments in order to remain in Him. This we do not in our own strength; our obedience comes “from the Spirit He gave us.” We are not Christians “in word or speech but in deed and truth.” Our union with Jesus (i.e., our sacramental life) is what gives us “confidence in God,” even if our emotions (“our hearts”) make us feel uncertain before Him, “for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything.” St. John repeats Jesus’ promise: we “receive from [God] whatever we ask” when we fulfill the work Jesus gave us to do (“ we keep His commandments and do what pleases Him”). This makes us the fruitful vineyard, whose harvest glorifies God and blesses the whole of creation.
St. John assures us—it is just as Jesus said it would be.
Possible response: Heavenly Father, I know that when I ask You to help me do the work of love for others, I will receive what I need. Help me aim for love always.