Archive for the ‘St. John the Evangelist’ Category

He Proved Faithful — Good Friday Homily

March 25, 2016

Few proved faithful to Jesus on Good Friday, but on Good Friday Jesus proved himself faithful to us.

The political leaders were supposed to serve justice, but Pilate and Herod failed to protect Jesus as an innocent man. Jesus protected us when we were guilty.

The religious leaders were supposed to serve holiness, but the High Priests and the Sanhedrin failed to accept Jesus as their Messiah. Jesus accepted us so that we might become holy.

The disciples were supposed to serve their teacher and lord, but Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, and the others abandoned him. By enduring his suffering and death, Jesus proved himself faithful to us.

Jesus’ mother Mary was faithful. She stood with him at the foot of the cross. It was a consolation for Jesus to have her there. Two of his beloved disciples were also there: Mary Magdalene and the apostle John. Jesus was grateful to have them close by.

Today, on this Good Friday, by the grace of God, we are at the foot of the cross. Let us pray for mercy, for ourselves and for others. Despite our past unfaithfulness, let us honor his faithfulness to us. Jesus is pleased that we are here with him, and he is grateful for our gratitude.

View From the Cross by Tissot

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Taking Jesus Too Literally

September 30, 2015

Jesus Facepalm

We do well to closely heed all that our Lord Jesus says, but we must also carefully understand what the Word of God Incarnate is really telling us. Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, let us consider two examples where some modern-day Christians misinterpret Jesus’ teaching by taking him too literally.

 

“Do not swear at all”

Jesus declares, “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all; not by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is his footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Do not swear by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:33-37)

Swearing an oath or vow invokes God as one’s witness to a claim or a promise and invites God’s just punishments if his name is taken in vain. It seems that people in Jesus’ day were trying to steal credibility without fearing divine retribution by swearing by lesser holy things. But Jesus warns that all good things belong to God, and condemns clever manipulations of the truth as coming from the devil. Instead, Jesus says, “do not swear at all,” but “let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes.’”

So do any appropriate times and places remain for swearing oaths or vows in the New Covenant? God reveals that such exist through St. Paul. In Galatians 1:20 and 2nd Corinthians 1:23, God himself inspires St. Paul to swear oaths (for example, “I call upon God as witness, on my life, that it is to spare you that I have not yet gone to Corinth.“) And in Acts 18:18, we read that St. Paul “had taken a vow.” Thus, in rare, righteous, and serious situations a Christian may solemnly swear to things before God.


“Call no one on earth your father”

Jesus tells us, “Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9) Does this mean that we should not call priests (or our even own dads) “Father?” This is not how the first Christians understood Jesus’ words.

St. Stephen calls the Jewish leaders “fathers” in Acts 7:2, and St. Paul does similarly in Acts 22:1. God prompted St. John to address Christian community elders as “fathers.” (1st John 2:13-14) God also willed St. Paul to write of “our father Isaac” and to call Abraham “the father of us all.” (Romans 9:10, 4:16-17) God inspired St. Paul to regard and describe himself as a father to his spiritual children. (1st Corinthians 4:14-15, 1st Timothy 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 10) Therefore, the true concern of our Lord is not with the label of “father,” but that our greatest devotion and love always be directed toward “our Father who art in Heaven.”

Seen and Unseen — December 28 — St. John the Evangelist

December 27, 2010

Today’s Gospel says that when John the Apostle went into the tomb on Easter morning “he saw and believed.” What did he see that led him to believe? Was it how the burial cloth which had wrapped Jesus’ body wasn’t taken away or tossed in a mess on the floor,  but left behind (perhaps deflated) in its place? Or was the cloth which had covered the Lord’s head rolled up in a familiar way, such that John recognized Jesus’ hand behind it. Or perhaps, if the Shroud of Turin is truly the burial shroud of Christ, John believed through beholding its testimony to the resurrection.

On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t something John saw that led him to believe, but something he didn’t see. Perhaps it was from the fact that Jesus wasn’t there that he infered the truth. “Dead bodies don’t just disappear for no reason at all. I didn’t do this. None of us did this. And what motive would our enemies have to take Him? This is the work of God.”

Just as John may have inferred the resurrection of Jesus from the empty tomb, so we can infer the truth of God from the presence of the universe: “Things don’t just appear for no reason at all. I didn’t make this. None of us made this. And how could an enemy have to create beauty, life, and love? This is the work of God.”

Tradition says that after Jesus entrusted the care of His mother into the care of John the Apostle, they went to live in what is modern-day Turkey.  What if we had gone to visit them in their home at Ephesus and asked them how someone can believe in the God of the universe, or the Lord Jesus Christ, when their reality can sometimes seem so distant.

I can imagine Mary or John replying, “Beloved, the One who was from the beginning, whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our eyes, whom we looked upon and touched with our hands, the Word of God, the Word of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ——we have seen Him, and testify to Him, and proclaim to you His eternal life.” The Christian faith is firmly founded, upon the unseen things we can infer and the things which we  have seen.