Lectio Divina John 8:12-20
1) Opening prayer
O God, by whose wondrous grace
we are enriched with every blessing,
grant us so to pass from former ways to newness of life,
that we may be made ready for the glory of the heavenly Kingdom.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
2) Gospel Reading - John 8, 12-20
Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
Anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark
The Lord Jesus, the glorious presence, that fills the temple of God, in Jerusalem, is offering to his listeners his great and mysterious teaching about the Way that is to be followed, the road that has to be travelled towards salvation. This passage, we note, opens with the verb, “to follow”, and the whole of Chapter 8 is marked by the verb “to go out”, referring to Jesus.
Thus, we can understand that the Word of the Lord wishes to invite us to travel the road of salvation towards the Light, following in the footsteps of Jesus, who, like the Shekinah, leaves the temple, (Jn 8:59 and Ezek 10:18), to go and live in a tent along with the refugees of all time, to live in the bosom of the Father.
This is precisely the route of the pathway of light that Jesus invites to take, along with him, from the temple to the Father.
Let us see, what steps the Word of the Gospels indicates to us.
You are testifying on your own behalf ...
This is just the first in a long series of seven occurrences of the word “testimony” along with the corresponding verb, “to testify”: a strong and very important key word which brings up a fundamental aspect of Hebrew law, given that a witness is a central and indispensable figure in the law of the people of Israel. There is something more: The word witness, in Hebrew, ‘ed, is underlined in that bible passage, which constitutes Israel’s most essential and vital profession of faith as we find it in the Shemah, in Dt 6:4. It is underlined because in the Hebrew bibles this verse is written in a particular way, i.e., the final syllable of the first word, the verb, shemah, listen, and the final syllable of the last word, the adjective echad, one, written in bigger letters than the rest. These two final letters, the ‘ayin and the dalet, united together form the word “witness”, ‘ed.
In this passage of the Gospel, we find ourselves facing a unique and unmistakable starting point: our journey towards the Father, together with Jesus, can only begin from our witness, from our believing lovingly and firmly in God, as the one God, and the one and only Lord. This is the witness given by Jesus. This is Jesus’ cry, right there in the temple of Jerusalem, a cry that will tear through our night, through our unbelief.
I know where I came from and where I am going ...
Jesus clearly knows the point of departure and the point of arrival of this journey of ours, through the night and towards the light. The two points, in fact, coincide, because both of them are in the Father, but for us, we have to look for them, identify them and make them ours.
Many times in the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus make the statement that the Father sent him (Jn 5, 37; 6, 44; 7, 28; 12, 49, as well as what we find in this chapter 8). The Father is his beginning, the secret place of his movement towards the world.
This very striking question concerning the origin of Christ stays alive always, always open, and apparently with no answer: Where do you come from? (Jn 19:9), as we hear it on the lips of Pilate.
Jesus revealed to us where he came from, but our hearts continue to seek, to want to find this beginning, this place in which we can too can be truly reborn, have our own beginning.
In the same way Jesus reveals the mystery of his own exodus. He tells us about the point of arrival of his journey in this world. He says, “I am going to the Father” (Jn 16:10).
Thus we have all the necessary coordinates for our journey: from the Father to the Father, in the same way that it was for Jesus.
Where is your Father?
This prayer, this searching of the heart, has to remain alive in us: it must never be quenched, and never be wanting. This is the thirst that has to guide us, drive us on our journey, make our hearts burn, in communion with the Lord Jesus. He is the living face of the Father.
4) Personal questions
- Do I have a desire to follow Jesus? and Do I want to begin it now?
- Am I ready to give myself to bear witness like Jesus?
5) Concluding Prayer
Like the dear that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.
My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life, when can I enter and see the face of God?
My tears have become my bread, by night, by day: as I hear it said all day long, “Where is your God?”
These things will I remember as I pour out my soul: how I would lead the rejoicing crowd into the house of God, amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving, the throng wild with joy.