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The Everyday Prayer

printable version

Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 5, 31-47

Were I to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be true;

but there is another witness who speaks on my behalf, and I know that his testimony is true.

You sent messengers to John, and he gave his testimony to the truth-

not that I depend on human testimony; no, it is for your salvation that I mention it.

John was a lamp lit and shining and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.

But my testimony is greater than John's: the deeds my Father has given me to perform, these same deeds of mine testify that the Father has sent me.

Besides, the Father who sent me bears witness to me himself. You have never heard his voice, you have never seen his shape,

and his word finds no home in you because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.

You pore over the scriptures, believing that in them you can find eternal life; it is these scriptures that testify to me,

and yet you refuse to come to me to receive life!

Human glory means nothing to me.

Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you.

I have come in the name of my Father and you refuse to accept me; if someone else should come in his own name you would accept him.

How can you believe, since you look to each other for glory and are not concerned with the glory that comes from the one God?

Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father: you have placed your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be the one who accuses you.

If you really believed him you would believe me too, since it was about me that he was writing;

but if you will not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

This Gospel passage concludes Jesus’ self-defence, to which we began to listen yesterday. Jesus defends himself by appealing directly to the personal testimony of the Father who is in heaven and who works in him. There was also the testimony of the Baptist, which obviously had his own strength: John was a lamp, Jesus says, even if only a few people let themselves be illuminated by his light. And he adds one last, definitive argument to his defence: 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. The Gospel and the works that rise out of it testify to the fact that the kingdom of God has come among us. In fact, Jesus did not come into the world just to proclaim a doctrine, he came to change the world, to free it from the slavery of sin and evil. Following the Gospel means making the signs of this change appear. They are the works of which Jesus speaks: the conversion of hearts and the changes that take place in people’s concrete lives: God’s works of mercy that free people from slavery. And yet the Pharisees would not believe, despite having seen these works and heard Jesus’ preaching. Their hearts were hardened by pride and their minds clouded by selfishness. Jesus says: You have never heard his voice. Faith means welcoming God’s words in our hearts and making them our own. This requires the humility of men and women who know how to listen to the Lord and the willingness to let ourselves be guided by the word that comes from on high and transforms the hearts of those who welcome it. Listening and the willingness to be guided is the first step towards faith, if we can put it that way, because they already contain the very spark of God. In fact, Jesus had told the Pharisees: You do not have the love of God in you. Jesus came to earth to reveal the face of God clearly. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father (Jn 14:9), he will say to Philip at the last supper. And when the Baptist’s disciples were sent to ask him whether he was the Messiah or not, he told them to tell the prophet about his preaching and his works. Jesus is the exegete of God. He is the only one capable of explaining him to us. And whoever reads the Holy Scriptures with openness and listens to them with faithfulness and sincerity will come to know the mystery of God’s love. This is why Jesus tells his listeners not to harden their hearts as the Jews did in the time of Moses, not to become too proud of themselves. On the contrary, we must let our hearts be touched by the Word of God and by the works that flow from it. Despite the disbelief of those who are listening to him, Jesus does not accuse them before the Father. He came to open the eyes and hearts of all. And this is what happens every time we open and read Holy Scripture with humility and openness: Jesus himself comes and helps us understand and be moved by the Father’s limitless love.

Memory of the Church