“Whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation.”
“The Son cannot do anything on his own but only what he sees the Father doing”
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Reading 1 Is 49:8-15
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
To those in darkness: Show yourselves!
Along the ways they shall find pasture,
on every bare height shall their pastures be.
They shall not hunger or thirst,
nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them;
For he who pities them leads them
and guides them beside springs of water.
I will cut a road through all my mountains,
and make my highways level.
See, some shall come from afar,
others from the north and the west,
and some from the land of Syene.
Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth,
break forth into song, you mountains.
For the LORD comforts his people
and shows mercy to his afflicted.But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
Responsorial Psalm PS 145:8-9, 13cd-14, 17-18
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Verse Before The Gospel Jn 11:25a, 26
whoever believes in me will never die.
Gospel Jn 5:17-30
Jesus answered the Jews:
“My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
For this reason they tried all the more to kill him,
because he not only broke the sabbath
but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.
Jesus answered and said to them,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does,
and he will show him greater works than these,
so that you may be amazed.
For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life,
so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.
Nor does the Father judge anyone,
but he has given all judgment to the Son,
so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.
Whoever does not honor the Son
does not honor the Father who sent him.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word
and believes in the one who sent me
has eternal life and will not come to condemnation,
but has passed from death to life.
Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here
when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God,
and those who hear will live.
For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life,
but those who have done wicked deeds
to the resurrection of condemnation.
“I cannot do anything on my own;
I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just,
because I do not seek my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.”
First Thoughts from Peace and Freedom
The counterintuitive propositions of the Gospels.
Society tells us: be strong. Seek money. Show off your skills. Rise to the top.
Jesus tells us: be humble. Become totally dependent upon the father. Seek out and do service for the marginalized.
Embraces all his creatures.
Eat my body. Drink my blood.
Can we follow him? Can we imitate him? There is little in the way of reward here on earth…..
Do not be afraid…
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
and grant us peace in our day.
In your mercy keep us free from sin
and protect us from all anxiety
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self,
that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Thank you, God, Amen!
Commentary on John 5:17-30 From Living Space
Let us not be afraid or cast down; God is on his way in the person of Jesus
Today’s Gospel follows immediately on yesterday’s story of the healing of the crippled man by the pool. That passage had ended with the words: “The Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this [i.e. the healing] on a sabbath.” We might point out, as with some other sabbath healings, that there was absolutely no urgency to do the healing on a sabbath for someone who had waited 38 years. It is just another indication of the divine authority with which Jesus works.
So Jesus’ reply is direct and unapologetic: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” Because Genesis speaks of God resting on the seventh day (the origin of the Jewish sabbath), it was disputed whether God was in any way active on the sabbath. Some believed that the creating and conserving work of his creation went on and others that he continued to pass judgement on that day. In any case, Jesus is claiming here the same authority to work on the sabbath as his Father and has the same powers over life and death.
The Jewish leaders are enraged that Jesus speaks of God as his own Father. They want to kill him. They understand by his words that Jesus is making himself God’s equal. Jesus, far from denying the accusation, only confirms it.
“A son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will also do.” This saying is taken from the model of an apprentice in a trade. The apprentice son does exactly what his father does. Jesus’ relation to his Father is similar. “For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, so that you may be amazed.” And “just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes” – and whenever he wishes. And such giving of life is something that belongs only to God. As does the right to judge, which Jesus says has been delegated to him.
Jesus is the perfect mirror of the Father. The Father is acting in him and through him. He is the Word of God – God speaks and acts directly through him. God’s Word is a creative Word. Jesus, like the Father, is life-giving, a source of life.
The right to judge has been delegated by the Father to the Son. And to refuse to honour the Son is to refuse the same honour to the Father. In everything Jesus acts only according to the will of his Father and does what his Father wants.
Jesus, then, is the Way, the Way through whom we go to God. For us, there is no other Way. He is God’s Word to us and for us.
I cannot fathom what it must have been like for You Lord. Most of our hearts cried out for salvation while others could not, having been bound and gagged by Sin.
Your love for us was so great that You promised to come save us, prepared us for Your coming and then fulfilled Your promise to us. What did we do? How did we welcome You? We turned our backs on You, We mocked You, plotted to kill You and eventually did.
Knowing all this You still came seeking out Your lost sheep. You brought light into our darkness, living water to quench our thirst, bread from heaven to nourish bodies and souls. With Your precious blood You washed us so that we can stand spotless before our heavenly Father. How great is our God!
Our lives are nothing without You and without You there is no relationship with our heavenly Father. All love, peace and joy comes from You for in You is life eternal. May we always seek to do our Father’s Will. Amen
• The Gospel of John is different from the other three. It reveals a more profound dimension which only faith is able to perceive in the words and gestures of Jesus. The Fathers of the Church would say that the Gospel of John is “spiritual”, it reveals what the Spirit makes one discover in the words of Jesus (cf. Jn 16, 12-13). A beautiful example of this spiritual dimension of the Gospel of John is the passage which we are going to meditate on today.
• John 5, 17-18: Jesus explains the profound meaning of the healing of the paralytic. Criticized by the Jews for having cured on Saturday, Jesus answers: “My Father still goes on working, and I am at work too!” The Jews taught that no work could be done on Saturday, because even God had rested and had not worked on the seventh day of creation (Ex 20, 8-11). Jesus affirms the contrary. He says that the Father has always worked even until now. And for this reason, Jesus also works, and even on Saturday. He imitates his Father! For Jesus the work of creation is not finished as yet. God continues to work, unceasingly, day and night, holding up the Universe and all of us. Jesus collaborates with the Father continuing the work of creation in such a way that one day all may be able to enter into the eternal rest that has been promised. The reaction of the Jews was violent. They wanted to kill him for two reasons: because he denied the sense of Saturday and for saying he was equal to God.
• John 5, 19-21: It is love which allows the creative action of God to shine and be visible. These verses reveal something of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Jesus, the Son, lives permanently attentive before the Father. What he sees the Father do, he does it also. Jesus is the reflection of the Father. He is the face of the Father! This total attention of the Son to the Father makes it possible for the love of the Father to enter totally into the Son and through the Son, carry out his action in the world. The great concern of the Father is that of overcoming death and to give life. It is a way of continuing the creative work of the Father.
• John 5, 22-23: The Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgment to the Son. What is decisive in life is the way in which we place ourselves before the Creator, because it radically depends on him. Now the Creator becomes present for us in Jesus. The plenitude of the divinity dwells in Jesus (cf. Col 1, 19). And therefore, according to the way in which we are before Jesus, we express our position before God, the Creator. What the Father wants is that we know him and honour him in the revelation which he makes of himself in Jesus.
• John 5, 24: The life of God in us through Jesus. God is life, he is creating force. Wherever he is present, there is life. He becomes present in the Word of Jesus. The one who listens to the word of Jesus as a word that comes from God has already risen. He has already received the vivifying touch which leads him beyond death. Jesus passed from death to life. The proof of this is in the healing of the paralytic.
• John 5, 25-29: The resurrection is already taking place. All of us are the dead who still have not opened ourselves to the voice of Jesus which comes from the Father. But “the hour will come” and it is now, in which the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who will listen, will live”. With the Word of Jesus which comes from the Father, the new creation begins; it is already on the way. The creative word of Jesus will reach all, even those who have already died. They will hear and will live.
• John 5, 30: Jesus is the reflection of the Father. “By myself I can do nothing; I can judge only as I am told to judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me”. This last phrase is the summary of all that has been said before. This was the idea that the community of the time of John had and diffused regarding Jesus.
• How do you imagine the relationship between Jesus and the Father?
• How do you live faith in the resurrection?
Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all,
his tenderness embraces all his creatures. (Ps 145,8-9)
The whole season of Lent is to prepare Catechumens to share in the divine sonship in Christ, and for those already baptized, to renew their filiation with God as their Father. Although we are the Chosen People of God, yet we, like the Israelites in the first reading, have lost our identity and freedom as God’s people. Through our sins and infidelity, we have become prisoners of our passions and our enemies. But God is bountiful in mercy and compassion, as the psalmist declares, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.”
Truly, God wants to set us free by helping us to recover our dignity as His children. He wants to restore us to wholeness. This is what God spoke through the Prophet, “Along the roadway they will graze, and any bare height will be their pasture. They will never hunger or thirst, scorching wind and sun will never plague them; for he who pities them will lead them, will guide them to springs of water. I shall turn all my mountains into a road and my highways will be raised aloft.” When we become conscious that He is our God and Father, and we are His people and His children, we will regain all that we have lost. There will be joy and freedom in our lives.
In these tender words of assurance to His people in exile who were feeling abandoned and about to give up hope, God reveals not only His fatherhood but motherhood for us all. Hence the prophet of hope exhorted the people, “Shout for joy, you heavens; earth, exult! Mountains, break into joyful cries! For Yahweh has consoled his people, is taking pity on his afflicted ones. Zion was saying, ‘Yahweh has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you.” So, if we are feeling burdened, abandoned, alone in our problems and imprisoned by our past, crippled by sin and anger, then let it be known that God has not abandoned us. He is with us even during such dark periods in our lives, when everything seems so hopeless and forlorn. God, who is our Father and our Mother, will never abandon us.
What is needed is to have faith in Jesus who came to give us back our sonship. Jesus is the Suffering Servant, as prophesied in Isaiah. “At the time of my favour I have answered you, on the day of salvation I have helped you. I have formed you and have appointed you to be the covenant for a people, to restore the land, to return ravaged properties, to say to prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’” Jesus is the One who will lead us prisoners out of our dungeon of darkness and misery. To come out of this hell, we must first “show ourselves”, that is, make ourselves available to Him. What does showing ourselves entail? Simply, it means that we must learn from Jesus what and how one can become the son of the Father. Only in Jesus can we be restored to our sonship, since we are sons of the Father only in the Son. We are sons and daughters by adoption, not by nature. To be sons and daughters in the Son, we must deepen our knowledge of Jesus’ relationship with His Father.
In the gospel, Jesus tells us that the Father loves Him and has given everything to Him. “For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does himself, and he will show him even greater things than these, works that will astonish you.” In claiming this love of His Father, Jesus made it clear that He is the Mediator of the Father. He came to reveal to us His Father’s love and mercy in His teachings, and especially in His works, particularly of forgiveness and in setting people free from sin, illnesses and the bondage of the Evil One. Most of all, His passion, death and resurrection will reveal the greater things that God does.
It is true for us too. If we want to learn how to be children of God, we must learn from Jesus who Himself learnt from His Father. To be a son implies having full knowledge of the Father. Sonship is the corollary of Fatherhood and vice versa. Every child must therefore represent the Father and become one with the Father who is the source of his life. Indeed, in another text of the gospel Jesus says, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Mt 11:27) Knowledge of the son is at the pleasure of the Father, who communicates Himself to His son. All parents would like to hand down their values and traditions to their children, especially their skills and trade. They hope that their children will perpetuate the values of their fathers and race as well. In the case of God our Father, He entrusted everything to the Son without reservation.
To His Son, He gave Him the power to give life. “Thus, as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to anyone he chooses; for the Father judges no one; he has entrusted all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son as they honour the Father.” Jesus therefore is our life-giver. He is the source of life and light for everyone. This life however is only ours if we accept Jesus as the Son of the Father. Faith in Jesus is paramount and the ultimate criterion in finding the fullness of life.
Faith in Jesus, therefore, is more than mere trust in Him but to believe in Him so that His life is reflected in ours. He assures us of fullness of life if we listen to Him, a life that begins the moment we accept Him. “Whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; without being brought to judgement he has passed from death to life. I tell you most solemnly, the hour will come – in fact it is here already – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live.” What a wonderful promise from the Lord; that without being brought to judgement, we have already passed from death to life. In other words, even before we face the final judgement at the end of our life, this life of God is already ours, if we share in the life of Jesus.
This life requires that we do the will of the Father as Jesus did. “I can do nothing by myself: I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just, because my aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” To be a true son and daughter, like all good children, we endeavour to please our parents. Children always seek approval and the love of their parents for whatever they do, because they owe their origin and life to them. Similarly, if we are called to be God’s children, it will not be to the approval of man that we seek, but only God’s. This was always the attitude of Jesus towards His enemies, and the people as well, for His one and only desire was to serve His Father and to do what the Father would have done. Identified with the Father fully, He gives life to all who comes to Him.
We must also bear in mind that sonship is ultimately spelt out in servanthood. This explains why Jesus considered Himself as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. He took upon Himself as the One His Father had chosen to be the light of the Covenant and set His people free. As we come closer to the passion and death of our Lord, let us continue to walk in this path of servanthood too. Life is ours as we give ourselves more and more to Christ and His people. We who have been chosen as His sons and daughters are called too, to bring others into God’s family. So the concrete way for us to participate in the sonship of Christ is the way of humble service and self-emptying for the good of humanity. As Jesus assures us, “Do not be surprised at this, for the hour is coming when the dead will leave their graces at the sound of his voice: those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation.” So let us not wait till Easter to live the resurrected life, but this life is already ours as a foretaste, if we imitate Jesus in being the instrument of God’s love for others. Following Jesus, let us be life-givers by our words and actions. Let us be people of hope and be like God who assures those who are depressed and alone or lost, that we are with them and there is hope in God. Giving life to others is the way to find life ourselves.