Gospel: John 13:31-33a, 34-35

The Power of Example

What was the best faith witness you have ever seen? Why was it the best?

Set aside, for a moment, the faith-works controversy. What remains the most powerful witness to the Christian faith? The moving story of repentance against all odds. Or, a simple act of love. What has more power, word or deed?

Jesus did not merely speak of God's love. He showed the world the Father's love on the cross. This was his glory. This was the way he communicated God's love to us. This was the way he expected us to follow.

Popular Translation

31 After Judas left the Passover meal, Jesus told his followers:

Now the Son of Man received glory.
And God received glory in him.
32 If God received glory in the Son,
God will give glory to the Son in himself.
And God will give that glory now!
33a My friends, I AM with you only a little longer.
34 So, I give you a new command: love each other.
As I loved you, so you must show love to each other.
35 If you love each other in this way,
everyone will know you are my followers!

John divided this short monologue into three parts: the glory of the Son and the Father [31-32], the presence of God among the disciples [33], and the command to love one another [34-35].

Literal Translation

31 So, when (Judas) departed, JESUS said (to HIS disciples), "Now, the SON OF MAN was glorified, and God was glorified in HIM. 32 [If God might be glorified in HIM,] God will glorify HIM in himself and he will immediately glorify HIM. 33a Children, I AM with you (only) a little while longer. 34 I give you a new command: love one another. Just as I loved you, love each other also. 35 In this (way), all will know that you are my disciples if you might have love for each other."

13:31 Even though Jesus spoke these words at the Last Supper, John seemed to write them in hindsight and for his audience. In the time frame of the Last Supper, Judas had just left. Now was the time for the glory of the Father to be revealed in the Son (in the crucifixion). In this sense, God glorified the Son as revelation.

But, both the Father and the Son were glorified. The assumed subject of the sentence was the Christian community. They were the ones who gave Jesus glory through their worship and evangelization. Hence, there was a "dialogue" of glory. God revealed his glory in the death of his Son. The Christian community responded with glory (i.e., rising reputation) in their community life.

13:32 [If God might be glorified in HIM,] This phrase is not found in the best manuscripts, but is found in the best translations for dramatic flow.

"God will glorify HIM in himself" Jesus was not only a vehicle of revelation. He enjoyed a personal, unique unity with the Father. Hence, the Father would not only reveal himself through the crucifixion. The Father would also show the world that, through the death of Jesus on the cross, his Son was indeed one with him.

13:33a "Children, I AM with you (only) a little while longer." By using the phrase "I AM" that referred to the Jewish title for God (YHWH), Jesus equated his presence with that of God.

13:34-35 "Love one another" John used the form three times as a literary device: once as a command, once as a result of his love, once as evidence of his followers. For John, love was the proof of God's presence, the cause of the Christian community, and the identification of Christians.

How is God honored in the example we leave for others?

At the moment of his pending betrayal, Jesus declared his glorification (i.e., his coming reputation). The glory of Jesus' death was one theme in John's gospel; God would use a death of humiliation and pain as a catalyst for his glory (reputation). For John, the cross was the sign of God's presence and a cause for faith in the Father. Jesus' death and God's reputation, then, were linked [31].

Love was the means that raised the status of crucifixion from the profane to the sacred. In the cross, Jesus showed God's love to the world through self-giving. When Jesus gave himself on the cross, the Father revealed himself as a selfless God. His focus was upon us. The Father loved us through the Son's death. In this way, John could declare that the Father's glory was in the Son and the Son's glory was in the Father [32].

When Jesus was no longer with his followers [33], how could God's glory continue to shine? Through the love of his followers. Love united the community in one mind and heart; it united the community to God [34].

Love is the best way we as Christians can evangelize others [35]. The way we treat others speaks volumes about our faith and invites others to join us. Love, even in the smallest of measures, is the best way to spread the glory of God.

Catechism Theme:  General Ministry of the Church (934-943)

There are two types of ministry in the Church: a general ministry all Christians are called to and a specific ministry individual members within the Church are called to. The general ministry is to serve the world. The specific ministry is to serve the members of the Church in the name and person of Jesus. These specific or "sacred" ministers who serve the Church (bishops, priests, and deacons) are called "clerics." All other Church members are called "laity." (934, 935)

The three aspects of general ministry are the roles of priest, prophet, and king. As priests, all Christians are called to pray. As prophets, all Christians are called to witness for Jesus through their words and actions. As kings, all Christians are called to lead others as Jesus did, through loving service. (941, 942, 943)

All Christians are called to witness by example. The example of prayer, word and deed, and loving service.

How has the love of Christians help you through times of testing? How did these Christians express their love?

Jesus gave an example of God's presence in the world. We are to continue that example. The love Jesus gives us is the same love we share with others. That love defines us and motivates us. It is the love that grows beyond words.

Reflect on ways you can show God's love to others. Plan two or three ways to share his love this week.