Lectio Divina: John 5:17-30
Season of Lent
1) Opening prayer
Our God and Father,
You keep seeking us out
with love as passionate as a mother's love,
even when we have abandoned you. Give us hope and courage,
especially when we feel uncertain.
Reassure us that You want us to live
in the security of Your love
and that You stay with us
through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 5:17-30
Jesus answered the Jews: "My Father is at work until now, so I am at work." For this reason they tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. Jesus answered and said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. "I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me."
• The Gospel of John is different from the other three. It reveals a more profound dimension, which only faith is able to perceive, in the words and gestures of Jesus. The Fathers of the Church would say that the Gospel of John is “spiritual”; it reveals what the Spirit makes one discover in the words of Jesus (cf. Jn 16:12-13). A beautiful example of this spiritual dimension of the Gospel of John is the passage which we are going to meditate on today.
• John 5:17-18: Jesus explains the profound meaning of the healing of the paralytic. Criticized by the Jews for having cured on the sabbath, Jesus answers, “My Father still goes on working, and I am at work too!” The Jews taught that no work could be done on the sabbath, because even God had rested and had not worked on the seventh day of creation (Ex 20:8-11). Jesus affirms the contrary. He says that the Father has always worked even until now. And for this reason, Jesus also works, and even on the sabbath. He imitates His Father! For Jesus the work of creation is not finished as yet. God continues to work, unceasingly, day and night, holding up the universe and all of us. Jesus collaborates with the Father in continuing the work of creation in such a way that one day all may be able to enter into the eternal rest that has been promised. The reaction of the Jews was violent. They wanted to kill Him for two reasons: because He denied the sense of the sabbath and for saying He was equal to God.
• John 5:19-21: It is love which allows the creative action of God to shine and be visible. These verses reveal something of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. Jesus, the Son, lives permanently attentive before the Father. What He sees the Father do, He does also. Jesus is the reflection of the Father. He is the face of the Father! This total attention of the Son to the Father makes it possible for the love of the Father to enter totally into the Son and through the Son, carry out His action in the world. The great concern of the Father is that of overcoming death and giving life. It is a way of continuing the creative work of the Father.
• John 5:22-23: The Father judges no one; He has entrusted all judgment to the Son. What is decisive in life is the way in which we place ourselves before the Creator, because it radically depends on Him. Now the Creator becomes present for us in Jesus. The plenitude of divinity dwells in Jesus (cf. Col 1:19). And therefore, according to the way in which we are before Jesus, we express our position before God, the Creator. What the Father wants is that we know Him and honor Him in the revelation which He makes of Himself in Jesus.
• John 5:24: The life of God in us through Jesus. God is life; He is the creating force. Wherever He is present, there is life. He becomes present in the Word of Jesus. The one who listens to the word of Jesus as a word that comes from God has already risen. He has already received the vivifying touch which leads Him beyond death. Jesus passed from death to life. The proof of this is in the healing of the paralytic.
• John 5:25-29: The resurrection is already taking place. All of us are the dead who still have not opened ourselves to the voice of Jesus, which comes from the Father. But “the hour will come” and it is now, in which the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who will listen, will live. With the Word of Jesus, which comes from the Father, the new creation begins; it is already on the way. The creative word of Jesus will reach all, even those who have already died. They will hear and will live.
• John 5:30: Jesus is the reflection of the Father. “By myself I can do nothing; I can judge only as I am told to judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek to do not My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” This last statement is the summary of all that has been said before. This is the idea that the Johannine community had and diffused regarding Jesus.
4) Personal questions
• How do you allow the creative work of the Father in your life?
• “Those who have done good deeds will go to the resurrection of life”. Do you exercise your faith in deeds, or just in talk, or in just showing off for others?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is tenderness and pity,
slow to anger, full of faithful love.
Yahweh is generous to all;
His tenderness embraces all His creatures. (Ps 145:8-9)