Knowing Him

Scripture Reading

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
“Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.
(John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)

Scripture Study

7:2 feast of Tabernacles: Also called the “feast of Booths” (Lev 23:33–43; Deut 16:13–16). It is a seven-day fall festival held annually in Jerusalem. The feast of Tabernacles commemorates both the completion of the autumn harvest and Yahweh’s provisions for Israel during their Exodus journey through the wilderness. Throughout the week, Jewish pilgrims dwelled in small huts made of tree branches called “booths”. Two liturgical ceremonies from this feast hang as a backdrop behind Jesus’ teaching in chaps. 7 and 8. (1) Each morning Levitical priests drew water from the pool of Siloam in the southern quarter of Jerusalem, carried it in procession into the Temple, and poured it out as a libation next to the altar of sacrifice. This is connected with Jesus’ teaching about “water” in 7:37–39. (2) Giant candelabras burned in the sanctuary (Court of Women) that illuminated the Temple courts; at the same time dancers with flaming torches processed through the Temple amid singing and music. This is linked with Jesus’ teaching about “light” in 8:12.

7:26 the authorities: Probably members of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.

7:27 no one will know: Two traditions regarding the birth and origin of the Messiah circulated in ancient Judaism. (1) Some expected the Messiah to grow up in obscurity and be manifested to the world only as an adult. (2) Others expected the Messiah to come from Bethlehem in accordance with the prophecy of Mic 5:2. The irony here is that both are true of Jesus: his heavenly origin in the Trinity is unknown to his audience (8:14), as is his birth in Bethlehem (Lk 2:4–7).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, the Gospel for today centers around a theme that we can never speak of enough: the divinity of Jesus. There has been a disturbing tendency in recent years—you can see it clearly in Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling book, The Power of Now—to turn Jesus into an inspiring spiritual teacher, like the Buddha or the Sufi mystics.

But if that’s all he is, the heck with him. The Gospels are never content with such a reductive description. Though they present Jesus quite clearly as a teacher, they know that he is infinitely more than that. They affirm that something else is at stake in him and our relation to him.

In our Gospel today, Jesus he plainly declares his relationship with his Father: “I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

Power and Authority

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”
(John 5:31-47)

Scripture Study

5:31–40. Because Jesus is Son of God, his own word is self-sufficient, it needs no corroboration (cf. 8:18); but, as on other occasions, he accommodates himself to human customs and to the mental outlook of his hearers: he anticipates a possible objection from the Jews to the effect that it is not enough for a person to testify in his own cause (cf. Deut 19:15) and he explains that what he is saying is endorsed by four witnesses—John the Baptist, his own miracles, the Father, and the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament.

John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God (1:34). Although Jesus had no need to have recourse to any man’s testimony, not even that of a great prophet, John’s testimony was given for the sake of the Jews, that they might recognize the Messiah. Jesus can also point to another testimony, better than that of the Baptist—the miracles he has worked, which are, for anyone who examines them honestly, unmistakable signs of his divine power, which comes from the Father; Jesus’ miracles, then, are a form of witness the Father bears concerning his Son, whom he has sent into the world. The Father manifests the divinity of Jesus on other occasions—at his Baptism (cf. 1:31–34); at the Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17:1–8), and later, in the presence of the whole crowd (cf. Jn 12:28–30).

Jesus appeals to another divine testimony—that of the Sacred Scriptures. These speak of him, but the Jews fail to grasp the Scriptures’ true meaning, because they read them without letting themselves be enlightened by him whom God has sent and in whom all the prophecies are fulfilled: “The economy of the Old Testament was deliberately so orientated that it should prepare for and declare in prophecy the coming of Christ, redeemer of all men, and of the messianic kingdom (cf. Lk 24:44; Jn 5:39; 1 Pet 1:10), and should indicate it by means of different types (cf. 1 Cor 10:11). […] Christians should accept with veneration these writings which give expression to a lively sense of God, which are a storehouse of sublime teaching on God and of sound wisdom on human life, as well as a wonderful treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is present in a hidden way” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 15).

5:41–47. Jesus identifies three obstacles preventing his hearers from recognizing that he is the Messiah and Son of God—their lack of love of God, their striving after human glory and their prejudiced interpretation of sacred texts. His defense of his own actions and of his relationship with the Father might lead his adversaries to think that he was looking for human glory. But the testimonies he has adduced (the Baptist, the miracles, the Father and the Scriptures) show clearly that it is not he who is seeking his glory, and that the Jews oppose him not out of love of God or in defense of God’s honor, but for unworthy reasons or because of their merely human outlook.

The Old Testament, therefore, leads a person towards recognizing who Jesus Christ is (cf. Jn 1:45; 2:17, 22; 5:39, 46; 12:16, 41); yet the Jews remain unbelievers because their attitude is wrong: they have reduced the messianic promises in the sacred books to the level of mere nationalistic aspirations. This outlook, which is in no way supernatural, closes their soul to Jesus’ words and actions and prevents them from seeing that the ancient prophecies are coming true in him (cf. 2 Cor 3:14–16).

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus declares the source of his authoritative behavior. Notably, the first hearers of Jesus were astonished by the authority of his speech. This wasn’t simply because he spoke with conviction and enthusiasm; it was because he refused to play the game that every other rabbi played, tracing his authority finally back to Moses. He went, as it were, over the head of Moses, as he did at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount: “You’ve heard it said…but I say.”

His listeners knew they were dealing with something qualitatively different than anything else in their religious tradition or experience. They were dealing with the prophet greater than Moses.

And Jesus had to be more than a mere prophet. Why? Because we all have been wounded, indeed our entire world compromised, by a battle that took place at a more fundamental level of existence. The result is the devastation of sin, which we all know too well. Who alone could possibly take it on? A merely human figure? Hardly. What is required is the power and authority of the Creator himself, intent on remaking and saving his world, binding up its wounds and setting it right.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

I Cannot Do Anything On My Own

Scripture Reading

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.”
(John 5:17-30)

Scripture Study

5:17 My Father is working: God the Son imitates God the Father and obeys all that he hears from him (5:19–21). Jesus thus depicts himself as the apprentice of Yahweh, drawing on the familiar custom of sons learning by observation and imitation the trade skills of their fathers.

5:18 equal with God: By calling God his Father, Jesus claims a status of divine Sonship for himself. ● The three Persons of the Trinity equally possess the same fullness of divine life and Being. Although the Son is less than the Father in his humanity (14:28), he is equal to the Father in his divinity (10:33) (CCC 253–54).

5:24 from death to life: Signifies a spiritual transfer from the curses of the Old Covenant to the blessing of the New (Deut 30:15–20; Eph 2:1–5). Believers are rescued from the fallen family of Adam and reinstated in the divine family of God (Rom 5:12–21) (CCC 580, 1470).

5:26 life in himself: The Father is the first link in a chain of supernatural life, since he alone has not received divine life from anyone else. His capacity to give life, however, is shared by Christ, who receives life from the Father and gives it to the world through the sacraments (6:53; 10:10).

5:27 execute judgment: The Son is given absolute sovereignty over life and death, being authorized by the Father to judge the living and the dead and decide their eternal destiny (Mt 25:31–46; Acts 10:42; CCC 679).

5:29 the resurrection: Christ claims the authority to raise all men from death, the righteous and wicked alike (Acts 24:15). ● Two oracles from the OT stand in the background of Jesus’ teaching. (1) Dan 12:2 envisions a final separation of saints and sinners once their bodies have awakened from the sleep of bodily death. (2) Ezek 37:1–4 envisions the resurrection, where bones and flesh are reassembled and made to live again. Rising from the grave is made possible by the spoken words of Ezekiel, called the Son of man, and the life-giving breath of the Spirit. Jesus casts himself in the lead role of these prophetic narratives: he is the “Son of man” (5:27) whose powerful “voice” (5:25) raises the dead from their “tombs” (5:28) and separates them for everlasting “life” or eternal “judgment” (5:29) (CCC 997–1001).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel we see Jesus as the judge who shows mercy and love. It is hard to read any two pages of the Bible—Old Testament or New—and not find the language of divine judgment.

Think of judgment as a sort of light, which reveals both the positive and the negative. Beautiful things look even more beautiful when the light shines on them; ugly things look even uglier when they come into the light. When the divine light shines, when judgment takes place, something like real love is unleashed. Someone might avoid seeing the doctor for years, fearful that he will uncover something diseased or deadly. But how much better it is for you, even when the doctor pronounces a harsh “judgment” on your physical condition!

And this is why judgment is the proper activity of a king. It is not the exercise of arbitrary power, but rather an exercise of real love.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

God’s Way

Scripture Reading

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate
a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes.
In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled.
One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying there
and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him,
“Do you want to be well?”
The sick man answered him,
“Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool
when the water is stirred up;
while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.”
Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.”
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked.

Now that day was a sabbath.
So the Jews said to the man who was cured,
“It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
He answered them, “The man who made me well told me,
‘Take up your mat and walk.'”
They asked him,
“Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?”
The man who was healed did not know who it was,
for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there.
After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him,
“Look, you are well; do not sin any more,
so that nothing worse may happen to you.”
The man went and told the Jews
that Jesus was the one who had made him well.
Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus
because he did this on a sabbath.
(John 5:1-16)

Scripture Study

5:1 a feast of the Jews: John usually identifies the religious festivals that Jesus attends, whether it is Passover (2:13), Tabernacles (7:2), or Dedication (10:22). Here the unnamed feast may be Pentecost (Weeks), which celebrates the spring harvest as well as the giving of the Torah to Israel. It is one of three pilgrim feasts that required Israelite men to travel to Jerusalem (Deut 16:16; 2 Chron 8:13) (CCC 583).

5:2 the Sheep Gate: An entryway in the northeastern wall of Jerusalem used in bringing sheep to the Temple for sacrifice (Neh 3:1). Two pools were built in the same area of the city; they were surrounded by four colonnade walkways and separated by a fifth portico running between them. One of these pools was called Bethzatha and was believed to possess healing properties.

5:5 thirty-eight years: The man’s protracted suffering is evident to Jesus (5:6). ● The duration of the man’s illness, due to some unspecified sin (5:14), recalls the duration of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness after rebelling against Yahweh at Kadesh (Num 13:25–14:11). The grueling journey from Kadesh to the threshold of Canaan lasted 38 years (Deut 2:14).

5:8 Rise … and walk: According to Jewish tradition, medical attention could be given on the Sabbath only when someone’s life was in danger. The boldness of Jesus in neglecting this convention reflects his own theological stance that giving rest to suffering souls, whether or not they are on the brink of death, fulfills the true intent of the Sabbath (CCC 2173).

5:13 Jesus had withdrawn: i.e., from the man just cured of paralysis. ● Morally (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Sermon on the Paralytic 16): Jesus disappears into the crowd to teach us to shun worldly praise. Though we are inclined to boast of our accomplishments, or at least be recognized for them, humility must turn us away from whatever acclaim might lead us to pride.

5:14 Sin no more: The Bible reveals a link between sin and suffering, with the former being the cause of the latter (Ps 107:17). This general truth, however, does not extend to every individual case (9:3).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, in today’s Gospel we find the beautiful healing of a paralyzed man who had been ill for thirty-eight years. Jesus sees the man lying on his mat, next to a pool, and asks, “Do you want to be well?” The man says yes, and Jesus replies, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately, the man is healed. Now at this point, the story really heats up. We notice something that is frequently on display in the Gospels: the resistance to the creative work of God, the attempt to find any excuse, however lame, to deny it, pretend it’s not there, to condemn it.

One would expect that everyone around the cured man would rejoice, but just the contrary: the Jewish leaders are infuriated and confounded. They see the healed man and their first response is, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”

Why are they so reactive? Why don’t they want this to be? We sinners don’t like the ways of God. We find them troubling and threatening. Why? Because they undermine the games of oppression and exclusion that we rely upon in order to boost our own egos. Let this encounter remind us that God’s ways are not our ways, and that there is one even greater than the Sabbath.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

Sightless Faith

Scripture Reading

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee.
For Jesus himself testified
that a prophet has no honor in his native place.
When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,
since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast;
for they themselves had gone to the feast.

Then he returned to Cana in Galilee,
where he had made the water wine.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The royal official said to him,
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.”
The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back,
his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.
He asked them when he began to recover.
They told him,
“The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.”
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him,
“Your son will live,”
and he and his whole household came to believe.
Now this was the second sign Jesus did
when he came to Galilee from Judea.
(John 4:43-54)

Scripture Study

4:44 a prophet has no honor: A similar proverb is uttered when Jesus is rejected by his hometown of Nazareth (Lk 4:24). The remark resonates with bitter irony: although Jesus is a Jew (4:9), he is rejected by kinsmen from his own country of Judea (4:3, 47). See note on Jn 1:19.

4:46 Capernaum: This village was more than 15 miles from Cana. The official from the town was probably a royal officer under Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee. A similar episode where Jesus heals from a distance appears in Mt 8:5–13 and Lk 7:1–10.

4:47 Judea to Galilee: Geography plays a symbolic role in John. For the most part, the northern regions of Samaria and Galilee accept Jesus in faith (1:43–49; 2:11; 4:39, 53–54), whereas the southern region of Judea with its capital in Jerusalem is persistently antagonistic toward him (5:18; 7:1; 9:22; 10:33; 11:7–8, etc.). This tension between north and south is underscored by repeated emphasis on Jesus’ withdrawal from Judea to Galilee (4:3, 45, 46, 54) and elsewhere when the Judean opponents of Jesus make derogatory remarks about Galileans and Samaritans (7:52; 8:48). It is against this background that John classifies the enemies of Christ as “the Jews”, i.e., the unbelieving leaders of Judea and Jerusalem.

4:54 the second sign: Despite numerous signs performed in Jerusalem (2:23), this is only the second performed in Galilee (2:11).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today tells of Jesus healing a royal official’s son. The official asked him to heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” But the royal official persisted. And Jesus told him his son would live. The man believed Jesus and his son recovered.

Theologian Paul Tillich said that “faith” is the most misunderstood word in the religious vocabulary. And this is a tragedy, for faith stands at the very heart of the program; it is the sine qua non of the Christian thing. What is it? The opening line of Hebrews 11 has the right definition: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.”

Faith is a straining ahead toward those things that are, at best, dimly glimpsed. But notice, please, it is not a craven, hand-wringing, unsure business. It is “confident” and full of “conviction.” Think of the great figures of faith, from Abraham to John Paul II: they are anything but shaky, indefinite, questioning people. Like the royal official, they are clear, focused, assured.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

Spiritual Blindness

Scripture Reading

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
(John 9:1-41)

Scripture Study

9:2 Rabbi, who sinned …?: Sickness was thought to be a direct consequence of sin (Job 31:3; Ps 107:17). Responsibility for physical ailments was imputed either to one’s parents (Tob 3:3) or to the earliest period of one’s life, since certain rabbis taught that infants could sin before birth (9:34). Jesus does not deny the principle that sickness is brought on by sin, but that a personal link can be established in every case.

9:3 the works of God: The man’s blindness was part of the providential plan of God (11:4). Giving physical sight to the blind is a sign that Jesus gives us spiritual sight to see earth in light of heaven, time in light of eternity, and our lives in light of our destiny.

9:5 I am the light: Jesus is the source of all truth, faith, and life (1:9; 14:6; 18:37). See note on Jn 8:12.

9:6 made clay of the spittle: The use of common materials to serve a holy purpose anticipates Jesus’ institution of the seven sacraments. See note on Mk 6:56.

9:7 Go, wash: Recalls the miracle of Elisha in 2 Kings 5:10–14. ● Elisha commanded Naaman the Syrian to “go and wash” in the Jordan River to be restored to health. the pool of Siloam: A rock-hewn reservoir in the southern district of ancient Jerusalem. The pool was built by King Hezekiah to serve as a water supply for the city (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chron 32:30). ● The miracle anticipates the administration of Baptism, where catechumens are washed (9:7) in water, anointed (9:6) with oil, and enlightened with grace and truth (9:5; Eph 1:18; Heb 6:4; CCC 1216).

9:11 The man called Jesus: The perception of Jesus deepens as the story unfolds: here he is a “man”; by verse 9:17 he is a “prophet”; by 9:33 he is “from God”; and by 9:38 he is the “Lord” worthy of worship. The narrative challenges our minds to make the same conclusion and our hearts to make the same response.

9:14 sabbath day: Instead of rejoicing with the man cured of blindness, the Pharisees haggle over the supposed illegality of the miracle on the sacred day of rest.

9:19 Is this your son …?: The testimony of the man’s parents would be the most credible of all since they would have known him from birth (9:20).

9:22 put out of the synagogue: i.e., excommunicated from the fellowship and worship of the Jews (Ezra 10:8). This was a frightful prospect for many Jewish Christians in the early Church (12:42; 16:2).

9:24 Give God the praise: An oath formula that binds a witness to speak the truth (Josh 7:19).

9:32 Never … opened the eyes: Even Tobit, whose eyesight was temporarily lost and later restored, was not blind from birth (Tob 2:9–10; 11:7–15; 14:1–2).

9:33 he could do nothing: Mirrors the logic of Nicodemus in 3:2.

9:35 the Son of man: The heavenly figure from Dan 7:13. See topical essay: Jesus, the Son of Man at Lk 17.

9:39 may see … become blind: To the humble and childlike, Jesus reveals the Father and his will, but to the wise and understanding, he withholds the light necessary to see the truth (Mt 11:25–27; 13:13–16). The Pharisees fall in the latter category because, while they claim to see clearly, they are blind to their deepest spiritual needs (9:41).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel is the story of the man born blind, which is a microcosm of the spiritual life. “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus responds by doing something a little weird: he makes a mud paste and rubs it on the blind man’s eyes. And then Jesus tells the man to wash in the pool of Siloam.

When the man comes back able to see, his neighbors are confused. Some say it’s the same guy, and others say it just looks like him. This is wonderful. Once you’ve put on the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re changed in every aspect of your life to the point where you may seem odd and different to others.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. It then takes a dramatic turn. The Pharisees interrogate the healed man. It becomes clear that Jesus healed him on a Sabbath day and so they condemn Jesus. They throw the formerly blind man out, but Jesus looks for him. He asks the man: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus wants us to put every ounce of our trust in him—and our vision will deepen. This in many ways is the heart of the matter: de-center your ego and re-center it on Christ. And now that you see, believe!

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

 

Acquiescence to Adventure

Scripture Reading

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38)

Scripture Study

Here we contemplate our Lady who was “enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness; […] the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Lk 1:28), and to the heavenly messenger she replies, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word’ (Lk 1:38). Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly to God’s saving will and impeded by no sin, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of Redemption, by the grace of Almighty God. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man’s salvation through faith and obedience” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 56).

The annunciation to Mary and incarnation of the Word constitute the deepest mystery of the relationship between God and men and the most important event in the history of mankind: God becomes man, and will remain so forever, such is the extent of his goodness and mercy and love for all of us.

Scripture Reflection

Our Gospel today introduces Mary, the Mother of God. The Church Fathers often made a connection between Eve, the mother of all the living, and Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. In fact, they saw her as “the new Eve,” the one who undid the damage done by Eve.

The angel’s greeting to Mary is important here: “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Mary is greeted as someone who is able to accept gifts. Eve and Adam grasped; Mary is ready to receive. And Mary’s reply is also significant: “How is this possible, for I do not know man?” There is nothing cowed about Mary.

The angel explains to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” At the heart of the spiritual life is the conviction that your life is not about you. The real spiritual life is about allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by the one who loves us. Mary is someone who is ready for the impossible, and this makes her the paradigm of discipleship. “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” That’s an acquiescence to adventure.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

‘THE’ Commandment

Scripture Reading

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this:
Hear, O Israel!
The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding,
he said to him,
“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
(Mark 12:28-34)

Scripture Study

Jesus summarizes the teaching of the entire Old Covenant in two commandments. ● The greatest is the Shema (Hebrew for “hear!”), taken from Deut 6:4–5. The Israelites considered this passage a summary or creed of their faith in the one God of the universe. The second is taken from Lev 19:18. Together these injunctions to love God and one’s neighbor underlie all 613 precepts of the Mosaic Law and especially the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:2–17; Deut 5:6–21). The distillation of Yahweh’s revealed Law into two commandments was prefigured by the two stone tablets of the Decalogue (Ex 34:1).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today features what the ancient Israelites referred to as the Shema: “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is Lord Alone.” Could I invite you to make an examination of conscience on the basis of the Shema? Is God the one Lord of your life? Who or what are his rivals for your attention, for your ultimate concern? Or turn the question around: does absolutely everything in your life belong to God?

You might ask, how do I give myself to a reality that I cannot see? This is where the second command of Jesus comes into play. When asked which is the first of all commandments, Jesus responded with the Shema, but then he added something to the tradition, a second command, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

There is strict logic at work here. When you really love someone, you tend to love, as well, what they love. Well, what does God love? He loves everything and everyone that he has made. So, if you want to love God, and you find this move difficult because God seems so distant, love anyone you come across for the sake of God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

 

The Rock of Our Salvation

Scripture Reading

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
(Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9)

Scripture Study

95:1–2. The invitation “O come” (vv. 1 and 6) might indicate that this was a pilgrimage psalm, although its main theme, the contemplation of God as King, can apply to any situation.

95:3–5. He is King over heavenly powers (“above all gods”: v. 3) and over every part of the earth.

95:6–7. He is King of the people that he created (“our Maker”) and whom he nourishes and guides as a shepherd does his flock (cf. Ps 23:1–2).

95:7d–11. The oracle that appears here is the voice of the Lord speaking to his people at this very moment (“today”: v. 7); he wants their promise to be truly sincere. Every time a person says this psalm, “today” should be taken literally. The passage is a warning to avoid any repetition of the rebellion in the wilderness (cf. Ps 78; Ex 17:1), so that what happened to that generation will not happen to those who praise the Lord (vv. 10–11; cf. Num 14:30, 34).

Scripture Reflection

The Psalm identifies God as sovereign of all and as shepherd of the church, and teaches that true worship is the devotion of life, trust, and obedience to this God and to God alone. When we entrust our lives totally to God, we will be on the path that leads us to true joy and freedom that can only come through doing God’s will and not our own.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

Fulfillment

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-19)

Scripture Study

5:17 the law and the prophets: A shorthand expression for the entire OT. to fulfill them: Jesus completely fulfilled the Mosaic Law and OT prophecies (1:23; 2:6, 15; 4:15–16; Lk 24:44–47). The Greek word translated fulfil means “to make complete”. The New Covenant thus includes and concludes the Old Covenant; it both perfects it and transforms it. While sacrificial laws of the OT expired with the sacrifice of Jesus, the moral Law (Ten Commandments, etc.) was retained and refined (5:21, 27, 43; 19:17). In the Christian life, the power of God’s Spirit is necessary if we are to obey the Law and grow in holiness (cf. Rom 8:4; CCC 577–81, 1967).

5:18 an iota: Corresponds to the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet (yod). a dot: Tiny extensions that distinguish similar-looking Hebrew letters from one another.

5:19 Probably these commandments means those of the Mosaic law. But this is an interim ethic “until heaven and earth pass away.”

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today is taken from the beginning section of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has symbolically established himself as the new Moses, giving a law upon a mountain. His “you have heard it said, but I say…” has revealed that he has authority even over the Torah.

He is not speaking as an anti-Moses, but as a new Moses. Jesus is not undermining the law; he is raising it to a new pitch. This is why he says, “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law.”

The law was always meant to bring humanity into line with divinity. In the beginning, this alignment was at a fairly basic level. But now that the definitive Moses has appeared, the alignment is becoming absolute, radical, complete.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.