Isaiah 49:1-6. Psalm 71:1-2,3.4.5-6. 15-17. John 13:21-33,36-38:
Chapter 13 opens the Book of Glory where the key word throughout will be “agape” or absolute selfless love. Just as the believe in Jesus was the golden thread throughout the Book of Glory, now it is complemented by the word “love” (agape) in the second book of John’s Gospel. We continue to remember the Prologue each time we enter a new development in John for that serves as the overture for both parts of this sublime Gospel.
Jesus is now the focus of our attention and we are realizing how much love and holiness is in this name for it means “salvation and healing.” Again our Suffering Servant hymn from Isaiah brings out this role of Jesus in the plan of God, the history of salvation, and in his passion, death, and resurrection. Jesus gives himself totally to all of us in his death upon the Cross the ultimate victory over chaos, darkness, and sin. In the Isaiah hymns we continue to see parallels to what Jesus will suffer for all of us in these next few days of his life. Isaiah reread in the light of Christ Jesus helps us to experience and feel what happens to Jesus.
Again the Psalm picks up on the theme of salvation in the responsorial verse: “I will sing of your salvation.” Great hope and confidence is shared by the psalmist speaking about these gifts of God from our birth to our maturation in life. The psalm is effusive with the grace of hope and trust.
Thus in chapter 13 we enter into the experience of the absolute selfless love of Jesus for his beloved friends (his disciples) who are gathered around him for their last meal with their Lord and teacher. They are now called ‘friends’ not disciples. Jesus will leave them but promises to return soon “after a little while”. The intimacy of the scenes with his friends is so magnificently displayed in chapters 13-17 that we do well to reread them during Holy Thursday and early Friday morning. The sadness of his death will lead to his glorious resurrection as Jesus returns to the Father. Love is now the main theme for the rest of John’s Gospel and it leads us to his glorification and our eventual enjoyment of it in the life we will experience with him after our death.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.