Scripture: Lectionary for 3/23 # 249. Wisdom 2:1.2-22. Psalm 34: 17-18.19-20.21.23. John 7:1-2.10.25-30
The Fourth Gospel, that of John, guides us on our spiritual journey these last weeks of Lent. He is familiar with our first reading which he takes up in his prologue where we see Jesus as the Word (Memra in Aramaic) clearly imaged as the Wisdom of God become flesh. John’s Gospel is Incarnational, that is, it confirms the humanity of Jesus in John 1:14 and displays Jesus through his seven signs and then through his love in the second part of the Gospel. Is John the beloved disciple? Most scholars would say no, but they do struggle with who is this “beloved disciple” who appears especially in the chapters where the the word for love (agape) is used frequently. The most famous scene is that at the foot of the Cross where Jesus entrusts his mother to the Beloved Disciple. (John 19:25-27). We have from the earliest commentary for this Gospel the beautiful words of Origen (250 A.D.) who says this, “No one may understand the meaning of the Gospel of St. John, if they have not rested on the breast of Jesus and received Mary from Jesus, to be their mother.” (In Johannem 1,6).
Jesus is the one who is sent by the Father to become one with us through his human birth of Mary of Nazareth. Being sent makes him THE APOSTLE (which means one who is sent from apostellein in N.T. Greek). He therefore is the ideal for the apostles who will be sent out into the world after his resurrection from the dead.
Being sent on the mission the Father has given him is associated with the theology of John the Evangelist in his use of the word “hour”. In the 26 times that the word is used a good number of them point to the hour of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection (The Paschal Mysteries. See, for example, John 2:4; 8:20; 13:1; 19:27).
In the reading of today we see that his “hour” has not come. There is much discourse going on between Jesus and the crowds and the leaders. Some think
that he may be the Messiah, others are convinced he is not and is stirring up the crowds too much. This could alert the Romans and make it difficult for the people who are controlled by Roman authority. Jesus himself rarely calls himself the Messiah in the Gospels and in Mark there is even a messianic secret in the narratives about Jesus. They who suspect him to be the Messiah are silenced by Jesus. He is rather The Apostle sent by God on mission. He brings the Good News of salvation to all who come to believe in God and in Jesus. In our reading of John we realize we are often dealing with three levels: the historical time of Jesus, the time of the writer, and the time of the Church or followers of Jesus after the Gospel has been written. In all probability the Gospel was written somewhere between 90-100 A.D. Symbolism, chronology, theology, and tradition are all involved in the development of this Gospel. It is a high Christology for Jesus is one with the Father, the Word of God from the beginning, and the master of the situation behind his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Fr. George Mac Rae, S.J. says, “The Gospel is a theological statement. We must beware reading it on the level of psychological drama.” Our way of interpreting this Gospel leads us always back to the Prologue of John 1:1-18 where there are the Christological and theological themes that evolve in the rest of this Gospel. Rudolf Bultmann, a great Scriptural Scholar and preacher, says that if we only had John 1:14 as our foundation, it would be enough for the emergence of Christianity. Amen.