bible blog 158

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church

Reading 1

Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Wishing to determine the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews,

the commander freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them. Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin,

“My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the group became divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection or angels or spirits, while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.  A great uproar occurred, and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued,  “We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

The dispute was so serious that the commander, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst and take him into the compound.

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Paul used diversionary tactics to divide his accusers, but the dispute ended with his appeal to the Emperor and transfer to Rome, where he was to be killed. We may doubt if Luke’s account in which Jews are always the problem and Romans always friendly, is a full record of events. It seems likely that a new faith that offered a Messiah and Son of God, as well as the One God, would have come under suspicion from the imperial cult, which promoted the Emperors as “sons of God.”  Luke is however emphasising the divine irony by which imperial power takes the subversive missionary to its own capital.

inscription to Divine Augustus

John 17:20-26

Gospel

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

The prayer of Jesus is a profound meditation on the one community of love instituted by the father, through Jesus. In this unity the partners retain their own characters, Jesus is not the Father, the disciples are not Jesus: the unity is of affection, which spreads from the Father to its recipients and back again.

One detail is very surprising: Jesus says of disciples, “Father they are your gift to me.” That’s not how disciples usually think of themselves-as the Father’s gift to Jesus. You wonder if Jesus wouldn’t have liked something better, a fish supper or a good book. But the scripture tells us otherwise. Jesus finds pleasure in the disciples’ affection, even if we are not always obedient or loyal.

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