Lectio Divina: John 16:23b-28
1) Opening prayer
Lord God, merciful Father,
it is hard for us to accept pain,
for we know that You have made us
for happiness and joy.
When suffering challenges us
with a provocative "why me?"
help us to discover the depth
of our inner freedom and love
and of all the faith and loyalty
of which we are capable,
together with, and by the power of,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 16:23b-28
Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. "I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."
• John 16:23b: The disciples have full access to the Father. This is the assurance that Jesus gives to His disciples: they can have access to God’s fatherhood in union with Him. Jesus’ mediation takes the disciples to the Father. Clearly, the role of Jesus is not that of substituting Himself for “His own.” He does not assume it by means of a function of intercession, but He unites them to Himself, and in communion with Him they present their needs.
The disciples are certain that Jesus can access the riches of the Father: “In all truth I tell you, anything you ask from the Father in My name, He will grant it to you” (v.23b). In such a way, it means, in union with Him, the petition becomes effective. The object of any petition to the Father must always be joined to Jesus, that is to say, to His love and to His commitment to give His life for man (Jn 10:10). Prayer addressed to the Father, in the name of Jesus, in union with Him (Jn 14:13; 16:23), is heard.
Until now they have not asked anything in the name of Jesus, but they will be able to do it after His glorification (Jn 14:13) when they will receive the Spirit who will fully enlighten them on His identity (Jn 4, 22ff) and will create the union with Him. His own will be able to ask and receive the fullness of joy when they will go from the sensory vision of Him to that of faith.
• Jn 16:24-25: In Jesus the direct contact with the Father. The believers are taken into the relationship between the Son and the Father. In Jn 16:26 Jesus once again speaks about the link produced by the Spirit that permits His own to present every petition to the Father in union with Him. That will take place “on that day.” What does this mean: “On that day you will ask”? It is the day when He will come to His own and will transmit the Spirit to them (Jn 20:19,22). It is then that the disciples, knowing the relationship between Jesus and the Father, will know that they will be listened to. It will not be necessary for Jesus to intervene between the Father and the disciples to ask on their behalf, not because His mediation has ended, but they, having believed in the Incarnation of the Word, and being closely united to Christ, will be loved by the Father as He loves His Son (Jn 17:23,26). In Jesus the disciples experience direct contact with the Father.
• John 16:26-27: The prayer to the Father. To pray consists, then, in going to the Father through Jesus; to address the Father in the name of Jesus. The expression of Jesus in vv. 26-27, “And I do not say that I shall pray to the Father for you; because the Father Himself loves you”, deserves special attention. The love of the Father for the disciples is founded on the adherence of “His own” to Jesus on faith in His provenance, the acknowledgment of Jesus as gift of the Father.
After having gathered the disciples to Himself Jesus seems to withdraw from His role of mediator, but in reality He permits that the Father take us and seize us: “Ask and you will receive and so your joy will be complete” (v.24). Inserted into the relationship with the Father through union in Him, our joy is complete and prayer is perfect. God always offers His love to the whole world, but such a love acquires the sense of reciprocity only if man responds. Love is incomplete if it does not become reciprocal: as long as man does not accept, it remains in suspense. However, the disciples accept it at the moment in which they love Jesus and thus they render operational the love of the Father. Prayer is this relationship of love. In the end the history of each one of us is identified with the history of His prayer, even at the moments which do not seem to be such. Longing, yearning is already prayer and in the same way, searching, anguish...
4) Personal questions
• Does my personal and community prayer take place in a state of calmness, silence, and great peace?
• How much effort or commitment do I dedicate to growing in friendship with Jesus? Are you convinced of attaining a real identity through communion with Him and in the love for neighbor?
• How do I view my union with Jesus, reflecting on Song of Songs 2:16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” ?
• Do I pray in union with Jesus, or with my own ideas and agenda?
5) Concluding Prayer
God reigns over the nations,
seated on His holy throne.
The leaders of the nations rally
to the people of the God of Abraham. (Ps 47:8-9)