Can you see it?

In today’s gospel we see Jesus in an encounter with the Pharisees as time rapidly approaches the events we know as Holy Week. One of the basic threads of this narrative is about the ability to see, to intuit, to recognize the swirl of events that are around you. At first glance they might seem random, chaotic, or singularly isolated. At second glance there might not be any greater clarity, but something edges up to the corner of consciousness – maybe only to be dismissed, to be misconstrued, lost, or attach itself in that nagging way some thoughts do. The thoughts that just won’t be on their way.

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Now is the time

Our text from the 5th Sunday in Lent (Year B) is located in the final section of the “Book of Signs” in the Gospel according to John. You can read a full commentary here. As a bit of refresher, the seven signs in John’s Gospel are:

Through the story of the raising of Lazarus we already know that Jesus has power over death, but in this gospel account it is revealed that He will give life through death. A death that is quickly approaching as this gospel account occurs after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate on Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. Continue reading

Now is the time: context

Giotto_Lower_Church_Assisi_Crucifixion_0120 Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. 27 “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. 31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die. Continue reading

Everyone who believes: context

Bronze-Serpent14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: the offer of new life

SanDamianoCrossThe Monologue. At v. 11, the text shifts from a dialogue to a monologue. The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus alternated between Jesus’ offer of new birth (vv. 3, 5-8) and Nicodemus’s resistance (vv. 4, 9). The shift to the monologue allows Jesus’ voice to silence the voice of resistance. Jesus’ discourse runs through v. 21 and divides into two parts. Verses 11-15 interpret Jesus’ offer of new birth through his death, resurrection, and ascension, and vv. 16-21 focus on the theme of judgment.

We know. Jesus begins the discourse by speaking in the first-person plural. English translations of v. 11 mask the Greek word order. The translation “we speak of what we know ” flows in English, but the sentence literally reads, “what we know we say” (oidamen laloumen). This word order is important because it means that the beginning of Jesus’ discourse and Nicodemus’s opening words to Jesus (v. 3) are the same: “we know…. “ It is possible to read Jesus’ words as a continuation of the irony of v. 10; Jesus parodies Nicodemus’s assertion of his knowledge. Continue reading

The hour: context

Giotto_Lower_Church_Assisi_Crucifixion_0120 Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. 27 “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. 31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die. Continue reading

Whoever believes: context

Bronze-Serpent14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. 21 But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. Continue reading

Trinity Sunday: the offer of new life

SanDamianoCrossThe Monologue. At v. 11, the text shifts from a dialogue to a monologue. The dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus alternated between Jesus’ offer of new birth (vv. 3, 5-8) and Nicodemus’s resistance (vv. 4, 9). The shift to the monologue allows Jesus’ voice to silence the voice of resistance. Jesus’ discourse runs through v. 21 and divides into two parts. Verses 11-15 interpret Jesus’ offer of new birth through his death, resurrection, and ascension, and vv. 16-21 focus on the theme of judgment.

We know. Jesus begins the discourse by speaking in the first-person plural. English translations of v. 11 mask the Greek word order. The translation “we speak of what we know ” flows in English, but the sentence literally reads, “what we know we say” (oidamen laloumen). This word order is important because it means that the beginning of Jesus’ discourse and Nicodemus’s opening words to Jesus (v. 3) are the same: “we know…. “ It is possible to read Jesus’ words as a continuation of the irony of v. 10; Jesus parodies Nicodemus’s assertion of his knowledge. Continue reading