bible blog 117

In holy week as always the blog follows the bible readings of the Catholic Church.

 Reading 1, Is 49:1-6

1 Coasts and islands, listen to me, pay attention, distant peoples. The Lord called me when I was in the womb, before my birth he had pronounced my name.

2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow and concealed me in his quiver.

3 He said to me, ‘Israel, you are my servant, through whom I shall manifest my glory.’

4 But I said, ‘My toil has been futile, I have exhausted myself for nothing, to no purpose.’ Yet all the while my cause was with Yahweh and my reward with my God.

5 And now the Lord has spoken, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him and to re-unite Israel to him;-I shall be honoured in  the Lord’s eyes, and my God has been my strength.-

6 He said, ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I shall make you a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach the remotest parts of earth.’

In this “Servant Song” the prophet arrives at an astonishing reading of Israel’s history. It has been marked by great defeat and suffering, in spite of their faith in God. But, says Isaiah, it is precisely through this suffering that Israel is called to a greater mission than its own glory: it will be a light of revelation to the other nations of the world. To speak for justice and reconciliation out of great suffering is a vocation that Israel has yet to accept, since this would mean recognising the suffering of others, especially Palestinians. But it is a calling accepted fully by Jesus the Jew, who through his cross and resurrection has become a light for all nations. Christian politics is the art of helping nations be sensitized by their own sufferings to the sufferings of others, and to find common cause in pursuing justice and peace.

Oscar Romero, martyr, El Salvador

 Gospel, Jn 13:21-33, 36-38

21 Having said this, Jesus was deeply disturbed and declared, ‘In all truth I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’

22 The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he meant.

23 The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus;

24 Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means,’

25 so leaning back close to Jesus’ chest he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’

26 Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish.’ And when he had dipped the piece of bread he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

27 At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’

28 None of the others at table understood why he said this.

29 Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival,’ or telling him to give something to the poor.

30 As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. It was night.

31 When he had gone, Jesus said: Now has the Son of man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified.

32 If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.

33 Little children, I shall be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and, as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come.

36 Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me.’

37 Peter said to him, ‘Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’

38 ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’

Just when it looks as if Jesus’ ministry has been without success-betrayed by one of his own he will be condemned to death- Jesus himself declares that this very event of defeat and suffering will be God’s glorification of the ministry which has glorified God. The reason the disciples cannot yet follow were Jesus is going, is not only that they are not ready to share Jesus’ suffering, but also that they are not ready for the  strange glory of God. In the Old Testament the “glory of God” is the veiled or clouded presence of God amongst his people. In the crucifixion of Jesus, God is revealed, unclouded and unveiled, as love.

 Peter wrongly imagines that he is ready to follow, but Jesus assures him that it is only through his own failure as an apostle he will find the meaning of the cross and the resurrection. Only then will he be able to follow. This remains true of all disciples of Jesus. In the gospel passage Jesus is shown coping easily with the fact that Judas is opposed, has become an enemy. Those who love him, but are unready to follow him, make bigger demands upon him.


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