Scripture: Lectionary 249. March 15. Wisdom 1.12-22. Psalm 34:17-18.19-20.21.23. John 7:1-2. 10. 25-30
“His “hour” had not yet come.” (John 7:30). John deliberately uses the word “hour” several times in his Gospel with the deeper meaning of the time experience of Jesus in his sufferings, death, and resurrection. We call these events the Paschal Mystery of the Lord and we are nearing the liturgical time in which we celebrate them during the week before Easter; especially on what is called Holy Week and the Triduum of Holy Days: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday. The word “hour” appears for the first time in the Cana story in John 2:1-11 when Jesus makes known to his mother that his “hour” has not yet come. Dom Ralph Russell, O.S.B. comments, “Mary gives the order to the servants which initiates his action. Jesus, who never resists humble faith, grants an outstanding miracle to his Mother, before his ‘Hour.’” The other important references for the paschal meaning of the word “hour” are found in John 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1; 17:1. and 19:27. These are excellent texts for a Lenten meditation on the mystery of Jesus’ suffering, death on the cross, and his resurrection.
Another symbolic phrase that is connected to the Paschal Mysteries is the expression “to be lifted up.” For example, “and I—once “lifted up” from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” The reference is found also in John 3:14 (2x) and in John 8:28 thus giving us the statement of his crucifixion on three distinct occasions before he actually is crucified. In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) the phrase is not used; the prediction of Jesus death is found three times in each of these Gospels. All references in John refer to the actual ascending of Jesus on the Cross to the Father and thus he is victor over death, sin, and Satan.
John uses theological language and symbolic words to deepen our insights into who Jesus is an what his mission does. John is a revelatory gospel with Jesus being the Revealer of eternal life through his resurrection. Such language is contemplative and multivalent and leads the believer to contemplation of who Jesus is. This helps us to search the mystery without the dimensions of time and space being considered rather it is a series of events not chronologically considered but in the prayer time of kairosrather than chronos. Not watching a clock; rather it is experiencing the very person of Jesus and the events of Jesus through prayer. Contemplative prayer is similar to a Greek or Russian icon that leaves room for the eternal and non temporal dimension of our life. It is the language of signs, symbols, and few words. John helps us to leave the practical aside and enables us to enter the eternal realm and even the mystical dimensions of the spiritual life. We need to be attentive, patient, pondering, and listening in order to deepen our faith in Jesus. John does this on every page of his Gospel. Like the Beloved Disciple (John in our Tradition) we need to lean on Jesus’ breast and listen to his heartbeat. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.