The Spirit comes

This coming Sunday marks the 6th Sunday of Easter (Year C). You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

Our passage is taken from the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus contained in five chapters of John (13:1-17:56). In other words, we have but a few verses which are an integral part of a much larger passage. Accordingly, the Discourse can be outlined in a number of ways, though three main parts are fairly clear: Continue reading

Last words, first things

If you knew this was your last week, your last day on earth, what would you tell the people you love? Would it be advice? Your hopes for them? Would it be the dreams you have? Perhaps, the gratitude and love in your heart?  What would be your last words to the ones you love? Beyond the fact we’d really not like to think about it, even if we were ready to do so, this is something difficult, daunting, and delicate. Continue reading

Love one another

This coming Sunday marks the 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C). You can read a complete commentary on this gospel here.

Perhaps we should place this short gospel passage in context. The public ministry of Jesus has drawn to a close with Chapter 12.  Here in Chapter 13 begins the “private ministry” of Jesus preparing his disciples for his impending death.  John13:1-17:26 is characterized by Jesus’ being alone with his disciples before his betrayal and arrest. While there may have been others present, such as those who were serving the meal, the focus is on the Twelve (so also Mt 26:20; Mk 14:17; Lk 22:14). The section begins with an account of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and the prediction of Judas’ betrayal (13:1-30). Then there is a lengthy section known as the farewell discourse, which consists of teachings (13:31–16:33) and a concluding prayer by Jesus (17:1-26). Continue reading

Remain in my love: commissioned

deeplyrooted-crThe Commission as Friends. The language of friendship is immediately contextualized by language of election in v.16: It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” As Fr. Raymond Brown points out [683], this language of election does not speak of the election of the Twelve because there is no indication anywhere in the Farewell Discourse of the number and composition of the circle that is present with Jesus on this last evening. Rather, Jesus reminds the disciples (including the readers) that their place with him is the result of his initiative, not theirs; relationship with Jesus is ultimately a result of God’s grace. Continue reading

Remain in my love: friends

deeplyrooted-crThe Greatest Love. In v.13 we come to the greatest love. Morris [598-9] comments succinctly and beautifully: “There is no love greater than that of one who lays down his life for others. Anything else must be less. This is the supreme test of love. In the context this must refer primarily to the love of Jesus shown on the cross. There he laid down his life on behalf of his friends. Some have raised the question whether the love that dies for enemies is not greater than that which is concerned for friends, but that is not before us here. In this passage Jesus is not comparing the love that sacrifices for enemies with that which sacrifices for friends. He is in the midst of friends and is speaking only of friends. With respect to them he is saying that one cannot have greater love than to die for them. When it is a question of enemies Jesus did in fact die for them (Rom. 5:10). And as Loyd says, ‘in truth love has sunk below its proper level if it begins to ask who is my friend and who my enemy. Love gives, and gives everything, for all men.’ That is the thought of this verse. Jesus gives everything, even life itself, for others. There is no greater proof of love. Continue reading

Remain in my love: commandments

deeplyrooted-crKeep My Commandments.There is something very practical here: If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. Many suggest that this is the practical answer of how one remains in Christ and in his Word, bears fruit, and remains in the love of Jesus. These things are not some mystical experience. It is simple obedience. It is when we keep Christ’s commandments that we abide in his love. Once again appeal is made to Christ’s own example. He kept the Father’s commandments and thus abides continually in the Father’s love. And it is not a blind following of the commands, it to “listen through” to the deeper love that resides within and throughout the commandments. Continue reading

Remain in my love: remain

deeplyrooted-crAs the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. From the obligations placed upon his disciples (vv.1-8) Jesus turns to his love for them. He first tells them that his love for them is like the Father’s love for him. Then he commands them to continue in his love, suggesting that it is possible for people to live without being mindful of Christ’s love for them and so break the closeness of the fellowship. Jesus commands them not to do this.

The words agapao/ agapē (love), did not appear in vv. 1-8, but are found 9 times in vv.9-17. These words are prominent throughout the Farewell Discourse (John 13-17) with the verbal form occurring 24 times in those chapters (contrasted with 13 times in the rest of the book) and the noun form occurring 6 times in those chapters (and only once in the remainder of the book). Continue reading

Because you believe

This weekend I am preaching for the Annual Pastor Appeal – so I thought I would post a homily from several years ago that I gave on this same weekend.


Christ-glorifiedAs I have loved you, so you also should love one another (John 13:34)

In his book Surprised By Joy, CS Lewis describes being at a very proper English tea, standing there with an overly filled cup, when, quite by accident someone bumped into him, causing the jostled cup to spill some of its content out.  Later, when reflecting on that most ordinary of things, he noted isn’t that a lot like life.  If we want to know that with which we have filled our life, we only need to be jostled by life to see what spills out. Continue reading

As the Father loves: commissioned

deeplyrooted-crThe Commission as Friends. The language of friendship is immediately contextualized by language of election in v.16: It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” As Fr. Raymond Brown points out [683], this language of election does not speak of the election of the Twelve because there is no indication anywhere in the Farewell Discourse of the number and composition of the circle that is present with Jesus on this last evening. Rather, Jesus reminds the disciples (including the readers) that their place with him is the result of his initiative, not theirs; relationship with Jesus is ultimately a result of God’s grace. Continue reading

As the Father loves: friends

deeplyrooted-crThe Greatest Love. In v.13 we come to the greatest love. Morris [598-9] comments succinctly and beautifully: “There is no love greater than that of one who lays down his life for others. Anything else must be less. This is the supreme test of love. In the context this must refer primarily to the love of Jesus shown on the cross. There he laid down his life on behalf of his friends. Some have raised the question whether the love that dies for enemies is not greater than that which is concerned for friends, but that is not before us here. In this passage Jesus is not comparing the love that sacrifices for enemies with that which sacrifices for friends. He is in the midst of friends and is speaking only of friends. With respect to them he is saying that one cannot have greater love than to die for them. When it is a question of enemies Jesus did in fact die for them (Rom. 5:10). And as Loyd says, ‘in truth love has sunk below its proper level if it begins to ask who is my friend and who my enemy. Love gives, and gives everything, for all men.’ That is the thought of this verse. Jesus gives everything, even life itself, for others. There is no greater proof of love. Continue reading