Jesus Christ, the Perfect Likeness of the Father

1) Opening prayer
Lord our God, we know,
perhaps more in theory than in practice,
that you are with us,
that you are our God and we your people.Forgive us, Lord, when we fashion
our own gods made in our own image -
honour, power, prestige,
things to which we are attached and enslaved.
Remind us again and again
that you are our loyal God,
who made us in your own indelible image
and who shows us your perfect likeness
in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – John 5, 31-47
Jesus said to the Jews: “Were I to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be true; but there is another witness who speaks on my behalf, and I know that his testimony is true.
You sent messengers to John, and he gave his testimony to the truth- not that I depend on human testimony; no, it is for your salvation that I mention it. John was a lamp lit and shining and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.
But my testimony is greater than John’s: the deeds my Father has given me to perform, these same deeds of mine testify that the Father has sent me. Besides, the Father who sent me bears witness to me himself. You have never heard his voice, you have never seen his shape, and his word finds no home in you because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You pore over the scriptures, believing that in them you can find eternal life; it is these scriptures that testify to me, and yet you refuse to come to me to receive life! Human glory means nothing to me. Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you. I have come in the name of my Father and you refuse to accept me; if someone else should come in his own name you would accept him. How can you believe, since you look to each other for glory and are not concerned with the glory that comes from the one God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father: you have placed your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be the one who accuses you. If you really believed him you would believe me too, since it was about me that he was writing; but if you will not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?
3) Reflection
• John, interpreter of Jesus. John is a good interpreter of the words of Jesus. A good interpreter has to have a two-fold fidelity. Fidelity to the words of the one who speaks, and fidelity to the language of the one who listens. In John’s Gospel, the words of Jesus are not transmitted materially, literally; rather they are translated and transferred to the language of the people of the Christian communities of the first century in Asia Minor. For this reason, the reflections of the Gospel of John are not always easy to understand. Because in them are mixed the words of God and the words of the Evangelist himself who mirrors the language of faith of the communities of Asia Minor. The scholarly or scientific study of Jesus is not sufficient for this. It is also necessary that we have the lived experience of faith in the community. Today’s Gospel is a typical example of the spiritual and mystical depth of the Gospel of the Beloved Disciple.
• Reciprocal enlightenment between life and faith. Here it is well to repeat what John Cassian says regarding the discovery of the full and profound sense of the Psalms: “Instructed by that which we ourselves feel, let us not consider the text as something which we have only heard, but rather like something which we have experienced and which we touch with our hands; not like a strange and unheard of story, but rather like something that we bring out to light from the deepest part of our heart, as if these were sentiments which form part of our being. Let us repeat them; it is not the reading (the study) what makes us penetrate into the sense or meaning of the words, but rather our own experience which has previously been acquired in the life of every day”. (Collationes X, 11). Life enlightens the text, the text enlightens life. If, at times, the text says nothing, it is not because of lack of study or because of lack of prayer, but simply because of lack of depth in one’s own life.
• John 31-32: The value of the witness of Jesus. The witness of Jesus is true because he does not promote or exalt himself. “There is another witness who speaks on my behalf”, that is the Father. And his witness is true and deserves to be believed.
• John 5, 33-36: The value of the witness of John the Baptist and of the works of Jesus. John the Baptist also gave witness of Jesus and presents him to the people as the one sent by God who has to come to this world (cf. Jn 1, 29.33-34; 3, 28-34). For this reason, even if the witness of John the Baptist is very important, Jesus does not depend on him. He has a witness in his favour who is greater than the witness of John, and that is, the works which the Father carries out through him (Jn 14, 10-11).
• John 5, 37-38: The Father bears witness of Jesus. Previously, Jesus had said: “Whoever is from God listens to the words of God” (Jn 8, 47). The Jews who accused Jesus did not have a mind open to God. And for this reason, they do not succeed to perceive the witness of the Father which reaches them through Jesus.
• John 5, 39-41: Scripture itself gives testimony of Jesus. The Jews say that they have faith in the Scriptures, but in reality, they do not understand Scripture, because the Scripture speaks of Jesus (cf. Jn 5, 46; 12, 16.41; 20, 9).
• John 5, 42-47: The Father does not judge but entrusts his judgment to the Son. The Jews say that they are faithful to the Scripture of Moses and, because of this, they condemn Jesus. In reality, Moses and the Scripture speak about Jesus and ask to believe in him.
4) Personal questions
• Life enlightens the text and the text enlightens life. Have you experienced this some times?
• Try to deepen the value of the testimony of Jesus.
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh, your kingship is a kingship for ever,
your reign lasts from age to age.
Yahweh is trustworthy in all his words,
and upright in all his deeds.
Yahweh supports all who stumble,
lifts up those who are bowed down. (Ps 145,13-14)

Thank you to the Carmelites at ocarm.org for today’s reflection.

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