As we discussed on 23 March 2020, reading the Bible might be a good way of reflecting each day during this pandemic.
Why not pick up the Bible today and start reading from Chapter 1? Or, you could try reading a passage of the New Testament each day? Alternatively, you can try taking a short passage of Scripture and pondering it.
Throughout its 800 years, Carmelite spirituality has placed a particularly strong emphasis on pondering Scripture and is called Lectio Divina. This is the Latin for 'Holy Reading' and was a form and approach to praying with Scripture that was common among medieval religious orders. Essentially Lectio Divina involves taking a short passage of Scripture and pondering it. This can be done alone and normally involves prolonged periods of silence.
Today’s reading is John 15:9-17 and this reading plus a reflection and prayer can be viewed below:
1) Opening prayer
Your apostle Matthias was a witness
to the life and death of Jesus Christ
and to His glorious resurrection.
May your people also today bear witness
to the life of Your Son
by living His life as best as they can,
and radiating the joy
of people who are rising with Him
to a new and deeper life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. 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. "I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 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. This I command you: love one another."
• Today is the Feast of the Apostle Matthias.
• John 15:9-11: Remain in My love, the source of perfect joy. Jesus remains in the love of the Father observing the commandments that He received from Him. We remain in the love of Jesus observing the commandments that He has left for us. And we should observe them in the same measure in which He observed the commandments of the Father: “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. In this union of love of the Father and of Jesus is found the source of true joy: “I have told you this so that My own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.”
• John 15:12-13: To love one another as He has loved us. The commandment of Jesus is only one: to love one another as He has loved us! (Jn 15:12) Jesus surpasses the Old Testament. The ancient criterion was the following: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 18:19). The new criterion is this: “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is the phrase that we sing even today and which says, “There is no greater love than to give one’s life for one’s brother!”
• John 15:14-15: Friends and not servants. “You are My friends if you do what I command you,” that is, the practice of love to the point of total gift of oneself! Immediately Jesus presents a very high ideal for the life of His disciples. He says, “I shall no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learned from My Father!” Jesus no longer had any secrets for His disciples. He tells us everything that He has heard from the Father! Behold the wonderful ideal of life in community: to reach a total transparency, to the point of not having any secrets among us and to have full trust in one another, to be able to speak about the experience of God that we have and of life, and thus, be able to enrich one another. The first Christians succeeded in reaching this ideal after many years: “they had one only heart and one only soul” (Acts 4:32; 1:14; 2:42-46).
This statement of Jesus is also a reminder of what it means to believe in Him and be saved (Jn 3:16). To believe is not an idle thought or a wish. It is an action – many actions. “You are My friends if you do what I command you” means action. Some communities think that one is saved by just a thought on their part, and not doing what Jesus commanded. Love not only describes a relationship, it is also an action verb!
• John 15:16-17: Jesus has chosen us. We have not chosen Jesus. He met us, called us, and entrusted a mission to us to go and bear fruit - a fruit which lasts. We need Him, but He also chooses to need us and our work in order to be able to continue to do today for the people as He did for the people of Galilee. The final recommendation: “This is My commandment: to love one another!”
4) Personal questions
• To love our neighbour as Jesus has loved us. This is the ideal of every Christian. What are my concrete and real actions that show this?
• Do I make distinctions and only love some, and others not so much?
• All that I have heard from the Father I make known to you. This is the ideal of community: to attain total transparency. How do I live this in my community, including family?
• Using concrete examples, what does Jesus command me to do? How much do I really do?
• Is Jesus’ commandment only for certain people or certain parts of the day or week, or is it for all day, every day?
5) Concluding Prayer
Praise, servants of Yahweh,
praise the name of Yahweh.
Blessed be the name of Yahweh,
henceforth and for ever. (Ps 113:1-2)
SAINT JUDE, PRAY FOR US.