• 1

Janet D'Souza

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God, almighty Father,
You have absolute power over the world,
and yet You respect the freedom of people,
even of those who persecute Your faithful.
Make us realize that our faith
does not protect us against the evil
which people bring upon one another,
but that You want us to build according to Your plan
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Help our faith to stand the test
when our meager efforts fail.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 14:27-31a

Jesus said to his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me."

3) Reflection

• Here begins the farewell of Jesus, in John 14:27. At the end of chapter 14 He ends the conversation, saying, “Come now, let us go!” (Jn 14:31). But instead of leaving the room, Jesus continues to speak for three more chapters: 15, 16, and 17. At the beginning of chapter 18, we see the following phrase: “After He had said all this, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron valley where there was a garden which He entered with His disciples.” (Jn 18:1). In Jn 18:1, there is the continuation of Jn 14:31. The Gospel of John is like a beautiful building constructed slowly, rock on top of rock, brick upon brick. Here and there, there are signs of rearrangement or adaptation. In some way, all the texts, all the bricks, form part of a building and are the Word of God for us.

• John 14:27: The gift of Peace. Jesus communicates His peace to the disciples. The same peace will be given after the Resurrection (Jn 20:29). This peace is an expression of the manifestation of the Father, as Jesus had said before (Jn 14:21). The peace of Jesus is the source of joy that He communicates to us (Jn 15:11; 16:20,22,24; 17:13). It is a peace which is different from the peace which the world gives us. It is different from Pax Romana. At the end of the first century the Pax Romana was maintained by force and violent repression against the rebellious movements. Pax Romana, as a policy of the Roman government, guaranteed institutionalized inequality between the Roman citizens and the slaves. This is not the peace of the Kingdom of God. The peace which Jesus communicates is what in the Old Testament is called “shalom.” It is the complete organization of all life around the values of justice, fraternity and equality.

• John 14:28-29: The reason why Jesus returns to the Father. Jesus returns to the Father in order to be able to return immediately. He will say to Mary Magdalene, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father” (Jn 20:17). Going up to the Father, He will return through the Holy Spirit which He will send (cf. Jn 20; 22). Without the return to the Father, He will not be able to stay with us through the Spirit.

• John 14:30-31a: That the world may know that I love the Father. Jesus had ended the last conversation with the disciples. The prince of this world wanted to impose himself on the destiny of Jesus. Jesus will die. In reality, the prince of this world, the Tempter, the Devil, has no power over Jesus. The world will know that Jesus loves the Father. This is the great witness of Jesus which impels the world to believe in Him. In proclaiming the Good News, it is not a question of spreading doctrine or imposing Canon Law, or of uniting all in one organization. It is above all a question of living and radiating what the human being desires and has deeper in his heart through intimacy with God: love. Without this, the doctrine, the Law, the celebration, will only be a wig on a bald head.

• John 14:31b: Come now, let us go. These are the last words of Jesus and the expression of His decision to be obedient to the Father, revealing His love. In the Eucharist, at the moment of the consecration, in some countries, it is said, “On the day before His passion, voluntarily accepted.” In another place Jesus says, “This is why the Father loves Me: because I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own free will. I have power to lay it down so I have power to take it up again, and this is the command that I have received from My Father.” (Jn 10:17-18)

4) Personal questions

• Jesus says, “I give you My peace.” How do I contribute to the building of peace in my family and in my community?
• Looking into the mirror of the obedience of Jesus toward the Father, how could I improve my obedience to the Father?
• Jesus told His disciples beforehand so that they would believe. Do I need to “see” beforehand in order to believe, or do I see everything with faith and trust?
• We also have choices to lay down our “life” for others every day – in charity and denial of self in order to serve others in our daily “life”. Do I volunteer my “life” every day, all day, or only sometimes or only when asked?

5) Concluding Prayer

All Your creatures shall thank You, Yahweh,
and Your faithful shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingship
and tell of Your might. (Ps 145:10-11)

Reading 1           ACTS 15:7-21

After much debate had taken place,
Peter got up and said to the Apostles and the presbyters,
"My brothers, you are well aware that from early days
God made his choice among you that through my mouth
the Gentiles would hear the word of the Gospel and believe.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are saved
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they."
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders
God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

After they had fallen silent, James responded,
"My brothers, listen to me.
Symeon has described how God first concerned himself
with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,
but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols,
unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town,
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath."

Responsorial Psalm           PS 96:1-2A, 2B-3, 10

R.(3) Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Say among the nations: The LORD is king.
He has made the world firm, not to be moved;
he governs the peoples with equity.

R. Proclaim God's marvelous deeds to all the nations.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia           JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.

"I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete."

Reading 1           ACTS 15:1-6

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers,
"Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved."
Because there arose no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters
about this question.
They were sent on their journey by the Church,
and passed through Phoenicia and Samaria
telling of the conversion of the Gentiles,
and brought great joy to all the brethren.
When they arrived in Jerusalem,
they were welcomed by the Church,
as well as by the Apostles and the presbyters,
and they reported what God had done with them.
But some from the party of the Pharisees who had become believers
stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them
and direct them to observe the Mosaic law."

The Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.

Responsorial Psalm            PS 122:1-2, 3-4AB, 4CD-5

R.(see 1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia            JN 15:4A, 5B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Remain in me, as I remain in you, says the Lord;
whoever remains in me will bear much fruit.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel           JN 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."

1) Opening prayer

Lord our God, almighty Father,
You have absolute power over the world,
and yet You respect the freedom of people,
even of those who persecute Your faithful.
Make us realize that our faith
does not protect us against the evil
which people bring upon one another,
but that You want us to build according to Your plan
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Help our faith to stand the test
when our meager efforts fail.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.

2) Gospel Reading - John 14:27-31a

Jesus said to his disciples: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, 'I am going away and I will come back to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me."

3) Reflection

• Here begins the farewell of Jesus, in John 14:27. At the end of chapter 14 He ends the conversation, saying, “Come now, let us go!” (Jn 14:31). But instead of leaving the room, Jesus continues to speak for three more chapters: 15, 16, and 17. At the beginning of chapter 18, we see the following phrase: “After He had said all this, Jesus left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron valley where there was a garden which He entered with His disciples.” (Jn 18:1). In Jn 18:1, there is the continuation of Jn 14:31. The Gospel of John is like a beautiful building constructed slowly, rock on top of rock, brick upon brick. Here and there, there are signs of rearrangement or adaptation. In some way, all the texts, all the bricks, form part of a building and are the Word of God for us.

• John 14:27: The gift of Peace. Jesus communicates His peace to the disciples. The same peace will be given after the Resurrection (Jn 20:29). This peace is an expression of the manifestation of the Father, as Jesus had said before (Jn 14:21). The peace of Jesus is the source of joy that He communicates to us (Jn 15:11; 16:20,22,24; 17:13). It is a peace which is different from the peace which the world gives us. It is different from Pax Romana. At the end of the first century the Pax Romana was maintained by force and violent repression against the rebellious movements. Pax Romana, as a policy of the Roman government, guaranteed institutionalized inequality between the Roman citizens and the slaves. This is not the peace of the Kingdom of God. The peace which Jesus communicates is what in the Old Testament is called “shalom.” It is the complete organization of all life around the values of justice, fraternity and equality.

• John 14:28-29: The reason why Jesus returns to the Father. Jesus returns to the Father in order to be able to return immediately. He will say to Mary Magdalene, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father” (Jn 20:17). Going up to the Father, He will return through the Holy Spirit which He will send (cf. Jn 20; 22). Without the return to the Father, He will not be able to stay with us through the Spirit.

• John 14:30-31a: That the world may know that I love the Father. Jesus had ended the last conversation with the disciples. The prince of this world wanted to impose himself on the destiny of Jesus. Jesus will die. In reality, the prince of this world, the Tempter, the Devil, has no power over Jesus. The world will know that Jesus loves the Father. This is the great witness of Jesus which impels the world to believe in Him. In proclaiming the Good News, it is not a question of spreading doctrine or imposing Canon Law, or of uniting all in one organization. It is above all a question of living and radiating what the human being desires and has deeper in his heart through intimacy with God: love. Without this, the doctrine, the Law, the celebration, will only be a wig on a bald head.

• John 14:31b: Come now, let us go. These are the last words of Jesus and the expression of His decision to be obedient to the Father, revealing His love. In the Eucharist, at the moment of the consecration, in some countries, it is said, “On the day before His passion, voluntarily accepted.” In another place Jesus says, “This is why the Father loves Me: because I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own free will. I have power to lay it down so I have power to take it up again, and this is the command that I have received from My Father.” (Jn 10:17-18)

4) Personal questions

• Jesus says, “I give you My peace.” How do I contribute to the building of peace in my family and in my community?
• Looking into the mirror of the obedience of Jesus toward the Father, how could I improve my obedience to the Father?
• Jesus told His disciples beforehand so that they would believe. Do I need to “see” beforehand in order to believe, or do I see everything with faith and trust?
• We also have choices to lay down our “life” for others every day – in charity and denial of self in order to serve others in our daily “life”. Do I volunteer my “life” every day, all day, or only sometimes or only when asked?

5) Concluding Prayer

All Your creatures shall thank You, Yahweh,
and Your faithful shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingship
and tell of Your might. (Ps 145:10-11)

1) Opening prayer

Lord God, loving Father,
we look for Your presence
in the temple of nature
and in churches built by our hands,
and You are there with Your people.
But above all, You have made Your temple
right in our hearts.
God, give us eyes of faith and love
to recognize that You live in us
with Your Son and the Holy Spirit
if we keep the word of Jesus Christ,
Your Son and our Lord for ever.

2) Gospel Reading - John 14:21-26

Jesus said to his disciples: "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, "Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. "I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name -- he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you."

3) Reflection

• Chapter 14 of the Gospel of John is a beautiful example of how the catechesis was done in the communities of Asia Minor at the end of the first century. Through the questions of the disciples and the responses of Jesus, the Christians formed their conscience and found an orientation to address their problems. In chapter 14, we find the question of Thomas and the answer of Jesus (Jn 14:5-7), the question of Philip and the response of Jesus (Jn 14:8-21), and the question of Judas and the answer of Jesus (Jn 12:22-26). The last phrase of the answer of Jesus to Philip (Jn 14:21) forms the first verse of today’s Gospel.

• John 14:21: I shall love Him and reveal myself to Him. This verse presents the summary of the response of Jesus to Philip. Philip had said: “Show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied!” (Jn 14:8). Moses had asked God: “Show me your glory!” (Ex 33:18). God answered: “My face you cannot see, for no human being can see Me and survive” (Ex 33:20). The Father cannot be shown. God lives in inaccessible light (1 Tim 6:16). “Nobody has ever seen God” (I Jn 4:12). But the presence of the Father can be experienced through the experience of love. The First Letter of Saint John says: “He who does not love does not know God because God is love”. Jesus tells Philip: “Whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and reveal Myself to him”. By observing the commandment of Jesus, which is the commandment to love our neighbor (Jn 15:17), the person shows his love for Jesus. And whoever loves Jesus, will be loved by the Father and can be certain that the Father will manifest Himself to him. In the response to Judas, Jesus will say how this manifestation of the Father will take place in our life.

• John 14:22: The question of Judas is the question of all. The question of Judas: “Lord, what has happened that You intend to show Yourself to us and not to the world?” This question mirrors a problem which is real even today. Sometimes, among us, Christians, there arises the idea of being better than the others and of being loved by God more than others. Do we attribute to God distinction among people?

• John 14:23-24: The answer of Jesus. The answer of Jesus is simple and profound. He repeats what He had just said to Philip. The problem is not if we, Christians, are loved more by God than others, or that the others are despised by God. This is not the criteria for any preference by the Father. The criteria of the Father is always the same: love. “If anyone loves Me, he will observe My word, and My Father will love him and We shall come to him and make a home in him. Anyone who does not love Me does not keep My words”. Independently of whether the person is Christian or not, the Father manifests Himself to all those who observe the commandment of Jesus which is love for neighbor (Jn 15:17). In what does the manifestation of the Father consist? The response to this question is engraved in the heart of humanity, in the universal human experience. Observe the life of the people who practice love and make their life a gift for others. Examine their experience, independently of religion, social class, race or color. The practice of love gives us a profound peace and it is a great joy that they succeed to live and bear together pain and suffering. This experience is the reflection of the manifestation of the Father in the life of the person. It is the realization of the promise: “I and the Father will come to him and make our home in him.

• John 14:25-26: The promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus ends his response to Judas saying: I have said these things to you while still with you. Jesus communicates everything which He has heard from the Father (Jn 15:15). His words are a source of life and they should be meditated on, deepened, and updated constantly in the light of the always new reality which surrounds us. For this constant meditation on His words, Jesus promises us the help of the Holy Spirit: “The Consoler, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in My name will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.

4) Personal questions

• Jesus says: We will come to him and make our home in him. How do I experience this promise?
• We have the promise of the gift of the Spirit to help us understand the word of Jesus. Do I invoke the light of the Spirit when I prepare myself to read and meditate on Scripture?
• Do I keep His word in a way that allows the Father and the Son to dwell in me continuously, or is it only on good days or certain times?

5) Concluding Prayer

Day after day I shall bless You,
I shall praise Your name for ever and ever.
Great is Yahweh and worthy of all praise,
His greatness beyond all reckoning. (Ps 145:2-3)

Easy Road to Holiness - A Reflection on John 15:1-8

God tells us to be holy, pure, and perfect. Just like he is. And most people don’t believe that it is possible to be that, because they have tried and tried over the years and have kept failing. Many either give up in frustration, or reconcile themselves to a life of constant struggle. But the reason for the failure is because the efforts rely on human strength and ability, not on God and his grace. So how does that work?

Jesus provides the answer. “I am the vine,” he says. “You are the branches. If you remain in me you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” Have you ever seen a fruit tree laden with fruit? Of course you have. Have you heard the branch groaning and moaning trying hard to bear fruit? Of course you haven’t. Because the branch doesn’t bear fruit out of its power; it gets it from the tree that it’s fixed to. Ditto for us.

All that we need to do to bear fruit — which is, incidentally, the real sign of a good Christian — is to remain in Jesus. And how do we do that? Through personal prayer. We get a few tips on how to do that from Jesus himself. “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans” (Matthew 6:6-7).

He also gives us the great secret of really being affixed to him. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (John 6:56). If you can receive the Eucharist daily, it is a sure-fire way of increasing your bonding to the vine that is Jesus. He gives us another tip when he tells us to die to ourselves. “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). Carrying one’s cross is a euphemism for death.

And that might seem hard to do until we realize that for everything we lose, we gain much more. So what happens when we do all these things? We will be rooted more strongly in Jesus, eventually getting to the point where we will be able to declare as Paul did: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

And then we can enjoy the pure, holy, and perfect life God asks of us.

A Lasting Peace - A Reflection on John 14:27-31a 

I don’t know if you ever noticed this, but Jesus never wished anybody happiness. In fact, nobody in the New Testament wished anybody happiness. And, if that surprises you, then think about this. The word ‘happy’ itself is to be found only once in the NRSV, and you can’t find the word many more times in other major translations. Why? Because happiness is elusive and illusory. It’s like pouring water into a hand. The water just flows off and whatever is left dries up in no time. Think about it and you’ll see how this describes happiness.

But what is lasting is peace, and you will find this mentioned a LOT in the Bible. And you will find Jesus using the word often. Like in today’s passage where he says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27). Why does Jesus say his peace is different from the world’s?

Because the world sees peace as something that is obtained when there is an absence of conflict, but Jesus’ peace is obtained even in the midst of conflict. And that is true peace. How does one get it? By trusting Jesus, and knowing that no matter what happens he is with us and he will take us through the storms of life. And also by knowing that if he has permitted something to happen to us, it is for a reason. We may not know what that reason is, but we believe it is a good one.

I have two very dear friends, both of whom are suffering from kidney failure and need dialysis to survive. One is a young man named Ashley who is married with children; the other is a younger lady named Valanka. Despite their suffering, they are among the most joyful people I have ever met in my life, brimming with hope and love. And peace! How do they manage to be like that? Because they keep their eyes fixed on Jesus and know that he works for the good of all those who love him (see Romans 8:28).

There is a beautiful song by Lynda Randle that puts it very well. It goes like this (and I’m not singing this one!). He never said you'd only see sunshine; he never said there'd be no rain; he only promised a heart full of singing; about the very things that once caused pain. So, give them all to Jesus: shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken toys. And he will turn your sorrow into joy.

Amen.

Holy Spirit; Counsellor - A Reflection on John 14:21-26 (Monday)

They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

Love and obedience. It’s a constant theme in the Gospel of John. And in chapter 14, he repeats it three times in one passage. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me” (John 14:21). And: “Those who love me will keep my word” (John 14:23).

But here’s the thing. We can’t do this out of our own effort. And Jesus understands that. Which is why he says the Father would send the Holy Spirit in his name and he would teach us everything and remind us of everything that Jesus has said. Now, all of us who are baptized Christians already have the Holy Spirit, but very few among us can hear him speaking to us. Why?

Five reasons: One, because we resist him. When Stephen is brought before the Sanhedrin, he explains the Scriptures to them, showing how they all pointed to Jesus, but they refused to listen. Stephen berated them. “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51).

Two, because we lie to him. Acts 5:1-10 tells the terrifying story of two people who lied to the Holy Spirit and the consequences they suffered because of it. You might want to read that story. Three, because we blaspheme him. Jesus warns about the consequence of blasphemy in Matthew 12:31-32. In the context of the passage, the warning has to do with those who attribute to the evil one the things of God, but the real blasphemy is saying we don’t need to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Four, because we grieve him. See Ephesians 4:30. We grieve him when we are bitter, engage in brawling and slander, get angry, are malicious, and generally not bearing fruit as we should. And, five, when we insult the Holy Spirit, which we do when we deliberately keep on sinning. We are basically telling him that he is not enough to enable us to lead holy lives. You might wanna read Hebrews 10:26-29. So, what do we do if we have done any or all of these things? Repent.

And listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit going forward.

 

Eyes of Love - A Reflection on John 13:31-33A, 34-35 (Sunday)

In every human heart is the desire to be loved. It is a great need. Mother Teresa said that the hunger for love is the greatest hunger in the world. However, human love is very limited, and can be very limiting. It can involve control, possession, dependence, and many other elements of being unfree. I don’t think it is possible for one human being to really love another with a love that is unconditional, depending only on the human capacity to love.

On a practical, down-to-earth level, there are people in the lives of most of us, whom we find impossible, or pretty near impossible to love. But this is the acid test of the whole Christian mission, because Jesus asked us to love even our enemies! Many of us find it difficult to love some of our friends! And when it comes to ex-lovers, good luck there! Not only is the love that was declared undying very dead, very often it turns putrid and foul.

However, if I am willing to go to the heart of the Christian message, and not just see it as some sort of an a-la-carte menu, where I pick and choose what I want to follow, then I come face to face with one simple fact: I HAVE TO LOVE! It is a commandment. But I realize I don’t have what it takes to love as Christ wants us to. To accept this simple fact is a moment of profound conversion. It makes me realize my great need for the Holy Spirit and consequently opens my heart to him and what he can do in me and through me.

And the more my heart is open to God, the greater capacity I have for loving others. That is because the more my heart is open, the more I can receive God’s love. And because his love is completely unconditional, always forgiving, and totally self-sacrificing, I find myself able to be accepting, forgiving, and sacrificing. After all, how can I receive love like this on one side, and withhold it on the other?

Eventually, when we have completely surrendered ourselves to the Holy Spirit of God, dying to ourselves and every need for fulfillment from other human beings, our love can be as limitless and deep as Christ’s is. And then, even if your enemies were to pillory you or hammer you to a cross, you’d look at them as Jesus looked at them. With eyes of love.

I am not a singer, but I wrote a song called Eyes of Love a couple of years ago and decided to sing it myself. It was an impromptu thing that I did on the spur of the movement, and as it didn’t turn out too bad, I decided to release it. You might get a kick out of it so here it is:  https://youtu.be/BJv0YvD-Ui0

Doing Amazing Things - A Reflection on John 14:7-14  

I want to draw your attention to something amazing that Jesus says in this passage. Most people ignore it because it sounds simply too good to be true. Let me repeat it in my own words. Jesus says, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing. In fact, they will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” Please think about this for a moment.

We all know the things that Jesus has done. He has made the blind see. He has made the deaf hear. He has made the dumb talk. He has made the lame walk. He has multiplied fish and loaves. He has calmed the storm. He has walked upon the water. He has even brought the dead back to life. Now listen to this carefully. Jesus is talking to his apostles, but he is not saying, “you guys are gonna do this.” He is saying, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I am doing!”

Which means that we will do what he did! Unbelievable, ya? No; believable! Let me explain why and we will take this step by step so we can see the logic of it. John 1:12 says that “to all who received (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”. Now, if we are children of God, then it follows that we are brothers of Jesus. But let us not draw any assumptions, even if they seem logical.

This is what Paul says: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17a). Not only does this imply that Jesus is our brother, it also says that we are co-inheritors with him. Do dwell on this a moment. Ok, so now you agree that we are co-heirs with Christ and we can do what Jesus did. So then why do we not?

Because covenantal relationships are dependent on both parties fulfilling their roles. When we are baptized in Christ we become children of God, but just saying that is not enough. We have to act like children, no? Prior to Paul writing what we just read, he said, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). Are we led by the Holy Spirit or do we just follow the inclinations of the flesh? If we are led by the Spirit, we will do the things like Jesus did. And that includes leading a holy life.

And if you want validation, look at all the apostles and other men who followed in their footsteps. They all lived holy lives and they all did amazing things in the name of Jesus. Let us as well. God bless you.

Page 1 of 748