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The Everyday Prayer

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

Vigil of Pentecost

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 21, 20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them -- the one who had leant back close to his chest at the supper and had said to him, 'Lord, who is it that will betray you?'

Seeing him, Peter said to Jesus, 'What about him, Lord?'

Jesus answered, 'If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.'

The rumour then went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus had not said to Peter, 'He will not die,' but, 'If I want him to stay behind till I come.'

This disciple is the one who vouches for these things and has written them down, and we know that his testimony is true.

There was much else that Jesus did; if it were written down in detail, I do not suppose the world itself would hold all the books that would be written.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

This passage concludes John’s Gospel. As we heard yesterday, Jesus has appeared to his disciples for the third time on the shores of the lake of Tiberias. After having answered Jesus’ three questions about love with three affirmations of his pastoral responsibility and having heard Jesus’ words about his old age, Peter turns and sees the disciple whom Jesus loved. He therefore asks Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” This question is perhaps born of curiosity or even the desire to make a comparison. But the answer is dry, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” Jesus reminds Peter that he has to make a personal decision to follow him, without distractions. This is the most important thing for him to think about, as it is for everyone who wants to follow Jesus. With their aura of mystery, the words about the disciple that follow caused some members of the first community to maintain that that disciple would never die. One thing is clear: John is in the Lord’s thoughts, not abandoned to himself. The particular memory made in this final passage of the fourth Gospel draws our attention to the word “remain,” which with Jesus describes the place of this disciple in the life of the Church. He is called to “remain” in love, that is, to bear witness not only to his love for the Lord, but even more to the love the Lord has for him. John remains the disciple who loved Jesus, but overall the disciple whom Jesus loved. This is why we remember the extraordinarily tender scene at the last supper when this disciple was able to rest his head on Jesus’ breast, showing an uncommon degree of intimacy between him and his Teacher. Only the one who had “rested his head on Jesus’ breast” was able to understand the mystery of the Son of God. Guided by the Spirit, he discovered the Lord’s love and lived and bore witness to it in the community. The last few lines of the Gospel, which form a new conclusion, emphasize this witness. The author writes: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.” The author is trying to link the writing of his gospel to the life of the community of the disciple whom Jesus loved. The relationship that links the writing of the Gospel to the life of the community is clear from the very beginning, to the point that we can say that it is only in the context of this relationship that we can understand the profundity of what is written in the text. The author then makes sure to point out that we are reading an unfinished work: “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” It is a hyperbole that contains a profound truth: the revelation of Jesus is such a great and profound mystery that it escapes human comprehension. If anything, every disciple who reads these pages knows that he can only understand them if - like their author - he or she rests his or her head on Jesus’ breast. It is in an atmosphere of prayer and love that we can grasp the deeper meaning of what is written in this book.

Sunday Vigil

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 15 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 16 October
Prayer for peace
Tuesday, 17 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 18 October
Memory of the Apostles
Thursday, 19 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 20 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 21 October
Sunday Vigil
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday