Memory of the Church

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Memory of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

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-defense, which we began to listen to 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, who obviously had his own strength. John "was a lamp," Jesus says, even if just few remained in his light. But he adds, to ultimately strengthen his defense: "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 follow it give witness to the fact that the kingdom of God has come among us. And yet, even though the Pharisees had seen these works and heard his preaching, they did not want to believe. Their hearts are hardened by pride and their minds are obfuscated by egoism. Faith, indeed, assumes humility, that is, a willingness to listen to words for one’s life and to receive love. This availability is the first step, if one may say, of faith because it already contains the spark of God. Jesus, indeed, says to them: "You do not have the love of God in you." Jesus came upon the 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 to the disciples of John the Baptist, who were sent to ask Jesus whether or not he was the Messiah, he directed them to refer the prophet to his preaching and to tell him of 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. That is why Jesus tells his listeners not to harden their hearts as other listeners did in the time of Moses and not to be proud of themselves, but to let their hearts be touched by the Word of God and by the works of love that flow from it. Despite the unbelief that overtakes those who were present, Jesus himself has not come to accuse them before the father, but to open their eyes and their hearts. This is what happens every time we open the Scriptures: Jesus keeps coming to us to open our eyes to the limitless love of the Father.