Lectio: John 5,33-36
John is the lamp, Jesus is the light
Father, you sent John to announce the coming of your Son, Jesus. He witnessed with great love for his Friend and Lord. In the fullness of time you sent us your Son as our Saviour. He witnessed to your love even unto death and he taught us to live in intimate friendship with you. Help us to welcome joyfully the presence of Christ,
in order to live in communion with him and direct our lives towards you, in the light of his face. Let this light shine on us and reach out from us to our brothers and sisters whom you have put into our lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen..
From the Gospel according to John (5, 33-36)
You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But I have a testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.33
* “You sent … the Father sent me”. The verb “to send” opens and closes this short passage, bringing together and summarising all that the richness of the Word that the Lord wishes to give us. The Jews send priests and levites to Jerusalem to question John (Jn 1,19). they send them to gain an advantage, to rob the witness of John and so to have him killed. The Father sends his Son Jesus from his own womb (Jn 1:1-2) as the Gift of grace and salvation for all humankind.
Sending is an action that belongs to the Father; it is up to us, the children to receive the One who is sent. In receiving, day after day, the experience of freedom and of growth in the spirit begins. Because of this we can then be the ones who are sent, as missionaries, and witnesses to God in the world. This is the pathway that lies ahead of us, the pathway that Jesus with these Words helps us to discover. He is willing to walk with us as Teacher, brother and friend, as a companion on the journey.
* “he witnessed”. Here is another key word, repeated a number of times in this passage, in different expressions: testified, accepting such witness, a testimony, testify on my behalf. The witness is the one who has seen and heard and therefore can recall and repeat, affirm, declare with certainty. The biblical term, from the Old Testament onwards, is very powerful because the root of the word, witness or testimony refers to an action that lasts a long time, or something that in itself has the power to reach beyond, even to eternity. What John does, what we see happening in the life of Jesus and then in the life of his disciples, throughout the centuries, is precisely this movement of going out of oneself, as an unconditional gift, through words and works, and the whole of one’s life. They went beyond, they launched out beyond the boundaries, saying once and saying often their yes to God. There was nothing that could stand in the way of their movement towards God and towards their neighbour.
* “He was a lamp”. The image of the lamp shines out in the centre of this passage, along with words that speak of light: burning, shining, light. Jesus thus point out the direction we have to take, the point on which to set our gaze. There is one sure light, a fire burning, in our night too (Ps 139,12). The lamp, that is the prophets (2 Pt 1,19) who are the witnesses to the Christ, the lamp that is John the Baptist particularly, especially at this time of Advent, has the task of leading us to the true light, that enlightens every human being (Jn 1.9), the light that never fades (Lk 1,78-79), the light that is life itself (Jn 8,12; 9,5): Jesus.
Then there is a sign, a sure proof that the Lord offers us: In this light, that comes from the Father, joy comes to life. All we have to do is look inside, stand before him in openness and sincerity, and also before ourselves, before our life, to see if we can see the signs of this joy. Just for a moment? Or even for ever? ……..
* The movements in the journey of faith that the Lord puts before us, especially in this time of Advent, are very clear: from John to Christ, from witnessing to the true and faithful Witness, from lamp to light that never fades, from Christ to the Father ….
Do I feel that I am ready to take steps, an not remain stationary? Have I the desire, inside, to journey in this way, to truly move towards Christ, and with him, towards the Father? Or might I prefer, one more time, to let things be, wait for better times, and go on, I too, like the Jews, sending others to ask the questions, to find any king of speedy or superficial answer?
* Are my eyes open, is my heart ready to welcome the testimony of Jesus, the witness of the works that he does, the works of the Father, that reveal Him as the Son, as the Brother? Or, am I blind, unable to see any sign of grace, of mercy, of the presence of God?
* Do I have within me a willingness to be a witness for Christ, a witness for the Father? Or, am I frightened, with no great desire, or not ready, or prefer to close myself off, instead of opening out?
* Is there a light in my life? Or, do I feel I am completely in the dark? Are there clouds all around me, clouds in my heart? The lamp of the Word is lit, since the Father sent his Son, the living and eternal Word, in whom the Father has said everything. Do I want to listen, to remember, to repeat all that I have heard?
* Even in these few lines the relationship of love that exists between Jesus and his Father is very clear, a relationship that unites them and makes them one. I know that this relationship is open, because the Father invites me too, just like every other human being who comes into this world to enter and remain, to enjoy true joy. Do I accept the invitation? Or, do I stay outside, and, a bit like the rich young man, walk away with a heavy heart?
Resp. The Lord said to me, “You are my son”!
How can young people keep their way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,
so that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare
all the ordinances of your mouth.
I delight in the way of your decrees
as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts,
and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
(from Psalm 119)