Weekday Gospel Reflection


Monday in the Sixth Week of Easter

John 15:26-16:4a - World English Bible

Jesus said to his followers:

26 “When the Counselor has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will testify about me. 27 You will also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

16:1 “These things have I spoken to you, so that you wouldn’t be caused to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Yes, the time comes that whoever kills you will think that he offers service to God. 3 They will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have told you these things, so that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you about them."

Jesus gave his disciples a promise and a warning: the arrival of the Spirit and the coming persecutions. The Spirit would testify about the Lord and empower them to spread the Good News. Yet, the result of evangelization would cause hatred, excommunication, even martyrdom. While the opponents of the early Church acted out of ignorance, they could not stop a divinely powered movement.

Christianity was controversial. It can still cause scandal, if its message and power are made manifest.

Have you been criticized for being Christian? How has the Spirit strengthened you in those times?

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Tuesday in the Sixth Week of Easter

John 16:5-11 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

5 "But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have told you these things, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don’t go away, the Counselor won’t come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment; 9 about sin, because they don’t believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won’t see me any more; 11 about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged."

In John 16, Jesus calmed the anxieties of his followers. Yes, he would leave them, but, in his absence, he would send them the Spirit to reinforce their apocalyptic world view (i.e., "convict them"). The Spirit would focus on sin, righteousness and judgment. Jesus defined sin as disbelief, rejection of the Son of Man. He pointed to righteousness, not as the acts of a faith-filled person, but on the will of God; to fulfill that will, he would have to ascend to his Father and the disciple would believe he did, indeed, returned. Finally, he spoke of judgment; the forces of evil would be condemned. These three topics added together fit into an outlook that saw God acting towards the dawn of his Kingdom.

How does the Spirit help you with your faith and your hope in a future life with God?

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Wednesday in the Sixth Week of Easter

John 16:12-15 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

12 “I have yet many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. 13 However when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself; but whatever he hears, he will speak. He will declare to you things that are coming. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take from what is mine, and will declare it to you. 15 All things whatever the Father has are mine; therefore I said that he takes of mine, and will declare it to you. 16 A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me.”

Jesus told his followers about the Spirit. It may sound odd, but the third person of the Trinity was the power driving divine will in the end times; he would "declare to you the things that are coming." The primary function of the Spirit viz-a-viz the final days was revelatory. As God acted through the Spirit, he spoke, especially to the disciples of the Christ, and what the truth he revealed gave the divine initiative some context. In other words, the activity and message of God were two sides of the same coin.

John 16 spoke of the intimacy between the Father and the Son; that intimacy would be shared with his disciples. The Father gave his will to his Son (16:15a); the Son gave that will to his followers through the Spirit (16:15c). The Spirit would feed the disciples, giving them the words of the Master until he returned in glory (16:16).

What message does the Spirit give you this day?

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Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter

John 16:16-20 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his disciples:

16 "A little while, and you will not see me. Again a little while, and you will see me.”

17 Some of his disciples therefore said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you won’t see me, and again a little while, and you will see me;’ and, ‘Because I go to the Father’?” 18 They said therefore, “What is this that he says, ‘A little while’? We don’t know what he is saying.”

19 Therefore Jesus perceived that they wanted to ask him, and he said to them, “Do you inquire among yourselves concerning this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you won’t see me, and again a little while, and you will see me?’ 20 Most certainly I tell you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy."

There's an old saying: "You don't what you have until it's gone." Jesus addressed that sentiment with his followers at the Last Supper. Soon he would be gone, but he would return in glory. His looming death would deprive them of his presence; his absence would cause sorrow in the community, but rejoicing among his enemies. That was not the end of the story, however. He rose from the dead and returned to his Father. That fact turned lamentation into joy, despair into hope.

He will only be gone for a little while. In the meantime, we look forward to his presence again.

How does your faith give you hope?

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Friday in the Sixth Week of Easter

John 16:20-23 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his followers:

20 "Most certainly I tell you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she gives birth, has sorrow, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she doesn’t remember the anguish any more, for the joy that a human being is born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 23 In that day you will ask me no questions. Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you."

In these verses from John 16, Jesus continued to parallel the sorrow his disciples would have immediately after his death with the absence Christians have felt as they await the Second Coming. He used the analogy of a woman in labor to make his point. She felt pain as she delivered her child, then joy at the sight of her newborn babe. The loss of the Lord's presence was painful, yet his return would that much sweeter.

In one respect the analogy (and the parallel) broke down; the disciples were completely deprived of his presence after he died, but we Christians who await his return in glory enjoy his presence through the worship and activity of the Church. While we still might have questions to ask the Risen Christ, we can have confidence that our prayers will be answered, maybe, not in the way we want, but in the way we need.

If Jesus stood before you right now, what would you ask him? How has God given you answers to those questions?

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Saturday in the Sixth Week of Easter

John 16:23b-28 - World English Bible

Jesus said to his followers:

23b "Most certainly I tell you, whatever you may ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now, you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full. 25 I have spoken these things to you in figures of speech. But the time is coming when I will no more speak to you in figures of speech, but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name; and I don’t say to you, that I will pray to the Father for you, 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father, and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”

Many people misinterpret the promise Jesus made in 16:23b. They hold an immature belief that God will give them what they want, when they want it. I like to call this view praying to the ATM deity; you slip the card of prayer into the faith kiosk and withdraw the money of divine favor automatically. Unfortunately, such a view reduces God into a principle or force we can manipulate. This is hardly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Read in context, Jesus promises intimacy and, along with such closeness, divine favor which depends upon the will of the Father. This last clause is the caveat, for it demands an answer to the question, "What is God's will for my life?" Do we seek his will or our own self-interest? If we seek what God wants, not what we want, the Lord promised he would speak to us clearly, for he prays to the Father on our behalf.

Ultimately, the question of God's will comes down to a more fundamental question: do we love God more than ourselves? If we do, we will believe Jesus came from the Father and will enjoy the love of the Trinity. Is that worth far more than the "stuff" our selfish hearts could ever desire?

Take just five minutes today and pray for God's will in your life.

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