Gospel of John Chapter 11

raising of LazarusCan you believe it? We have a whole week off, during which we will all be so busy that there will be little time to think about our friends in Bible study. Karen and I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving “hootenanny”. Remember that we do not have class on Tuesday November 25th. As much as Karen and I love being with all of you, we will not be at St. Rita’s on that Tuesday morning.
Since we are all so busy for the holiday, I just wanted to leave you with one idea to ponder on your own, while you stir a pot or wash a plate, and a little exercise – certainly not strenuous – to encourage you to relax and spend a moment with the Lord.Ponder this: Jesus tells His disciples that Lazarus is asleep, when Lazarus is really dead. In the first letter to the Thessalonians of St. Paul, we read of “brothers who have fallen asleep.” Is that how God thinks of our deaths – that we have just fallen asleep – until that glorious moment when He wakes us in heaven?

The little exercise: As I sat in the Adoration Chapel this afternoon reading Chapter 11 of John’s Gospel, the following verse caught my attention: “Now Jesus loved Martha….”. I have seen myself often, as we all have, in Martha, in her dedication to her home and the comfort of her guests, and in the way that she worried and fussed about everything. (Luke 10:38-41) I wondered if I could replace my name in that verse from John’s Gospel, so that it would read: “Now Jesus loved Franciene….”? Do I believe that Jesus loves me? I can readily reply when asked, “of course, He loves me”, and list all the reasons why I know this to be so. But do I really believe that He loves me?  Go ahead and ask yourself that question. Do you believe that Jesus loves you? Really believe it? Place your name in that statement from the Gospel of John and say with certainty, “yes, I know deep in my very heart and soul that Jesus loves me”.  We often sing the hymn in Church which begins “Lord, I know You are near, You are always at my side.” So some time this holiday week, after all the food is cooked and eaten, dishes washed and leftovers safely stored, go sit in a peaceful place by yourself, put your feet up, close your eyes, quiet your breathing and relax. Then ask the Lord, who is near and always at your side, “Do you love me?” and wait expectantly for His reply.
Karen and I look forward to seeing you once again on December 2nd. There are several questions in the workbook which are personal share questions. You will not be required to answer those in class, unless you want to do so. Don’t avoid answering these questions, as you may find them interesting and useful.  As always you may call us, if you have any questions or concerns.
May God bless you and your families during this special time. You are always in our prayers.
Lots of hugs and smiles,
Karen and Franciene

Gospel of John Chapter 12

Hello to you all,

Franciene and I hope that you are enjoying this next lesson in the Gospel of John. Though we have probably heard and read these stories so many times, I feel like we can often see them in a new light as we study and discuss them together.
There is so much going on in this chapter, and we can see the inexorable movement toward Jesus’s crucifixion as the Pharisees and others are afraid of His influence and mistrustful of His motives. And the apostles themselves are struggling to understand and follow Him.
One of the things that really impressed me in this chapter this time, is the reaction of the crowd standing by Jesus when they hear the voice of God coming down from heaven. When this happens, some in the crowd say that it was an angel speaking to Jesus, and some others say that it had thundered, even though Jesus specifically tells the crowd “The voice has come for your sake, not for mine.” How hard the crowd tried to explain and dismiss this voice from heaven.
It made me think of times in my life when I have tried to rationalize that “voice from heaven” when I have felt that God was nudging me in a new direction, or to amend my behavior in some way. It can sometimes be easier or less disruptive to our lives to try to reason that the voice of God speaking to us is something else entirely, so that we are not “really” required to make the changes that He is prompting us to make. But just like in this chapter, Jesus speaks to us today as well as the crowd around Him then, saying “The voice has come for your sake, not for mine” as He reminds us that it is for our benefit and growth and understanding that we listen to His voice and try to follow His guidance for us. I’m sure that each of us has had that experience in our lives, and hopefully as we grow in our relationship with God, we are more willing to listen for His voice and to follow in His footsteps. And Advent seems like a really good time to see how we are doing with this, and to try to focus more on watching and listening for Him as He comes to us again in such humility and love.
We hope that you are enjoying this lesson, and–as always–feel free to contact either of us if you have any questions or comments. You all are in our prayers.
Franciene and Karen
P.S. Since this chapter also discusses Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the reference to Zechariah’s prophecy about the Messiah riding on a humble donkey, I’ve included a poem I’ve always liked about the donkey’s role in this wonderful story. I hope you enjoy it!
The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Gospel of John Chapter 13

Meditation for Chapter 13, Gospel of John

Jesus washes feet of disciples“Jesus the Servant of Love”

Karen and I hope that you are enjoying this lesson, the first chapter in what is called by the Apostle John, “The Book of Glory”. This particular chapter is so poignant, for it presents an image of our God that is mysterious and hauntingly beautiful. The all powerful, all knowing and almighty Creator of the Universe is humble. How can that be?

During our lifetimes we have each seen hundreds of movies where every scene is carefully composed. Everything in the film is designed to help us visualize the times in which the action of the film takes place, so that we can understand the characters and the story. Unlike the movie makers, the Evangelists, who wrote the Gospels, leave it to us to fill out the details of each scene.

Can we imagine for ourselves what is missing from John’s description of this last supper which Jesus has with His disciples? We can assume that Jesus and the Apostles are in Jerusalem,  for in the previous chapter, the people of Jerusalem were welcoming Jesus as the true king of Israel with palm branches and loud hosannas just before the Feast of the Passover. The Synoptic Evangelists speak of this meal as the Last Supper and describe the events in detail. John does not need to repeat the events of the institution of the Eucharist, since the Eucharist is, during John’s lifetime, already the primary focus of the worship the Christian community offers to God.

Jesus and the Apostles have gathered in someone’s home for dinner. The meal has been prepared for them. But whose house is this? Who has prepared the meal? We are not told the details, but we can assume that the home is large enough to host a meal for at least the twelve Apostles and Jesus. The room, where they are eating, is large enough that all can recline next to the table. The host or hostess is likely a follower of Jesus, as there is no questioning or testing of Jesus by the Pharisees during this meal. This is an intimate setting, a special meal between Jesus and those who were closest to Him.

Jewish custom would have provided either a washing place for the guests’ feet, or more appropriately, a servant to clean the guests’ feet before they entered the dining area. So it is all the more curious that Jesus performs this task as well. The Apostles feet would have already been cleaned. So what is the purpose of the washing? As with all of Jesus’ actions, there is a important meaning behind the event, one that the Apostles will only recognize after Jesus has been glorified.

Who is present at the dinner? We are told disciples, but are there any women, particularly those who supported and followed Jesus? Is Mary, the Mother of Jesus there? Is the owner of the home present? What about servants? What are the Apostles talking about as they eat this special meal? Try imagining the answers to these questions, even imagine yourself present there, as a follower of Jesus.

Suddenly Jesus rises from His place at the table and begins to wash His disciples feet. Everyone at dinner must be shocked by Jesus actions – the guest of honor who takes the place of a servant. Does anyone offer to help, to do the task instead of Jesus? Perhaps those present wonder why Jesus is doing this, as their feet have already been cleaned? Which disciple is first to have his feet washed? Is Peter the only one to object? Is everyone else stunned to silence? Or do they whisper among themselves and look at one another in horror at their Master’s actions? Even John, the beloved disciple, does not offer to help. What about Judas? After the reception Jesus received on His entry into Jerusalem, is Judas offended that the One he thought would be king of Israel is now humbling Himself before His friends? Is Judas ashamed or even disgusted when Jesus washes his feet? Is this the final disappointment for Judas, the moment when he firmly commits himself to handing over Jesus to the Sanhedrin?

Jesus kneels in front of you now. Are you ashamed, or do you object when Jesus prepares to wash your feet? Do you recognize in this tender moment how great Jesus love for you must be, if He is willing to humble Himself before you?

As the textbook tells us, “Christian love is measured not by man’s heart, but by the heart of Christ.” What must we be willing to do for one another if our God, the Creator of all that is, is willing to be our Servant? What must I do to truly love the One who loves me so very much?

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If you have any questions or concerns about this lesson, call Karen or me. Our phone numbers are written in your textbook. We welcome your comments and questions. We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday for our last class before Christmas break.

May the love of Christ fill your hearts,

Karen and Franciene

Gospel of John Chapter 14

It seems like ages since we’ve been in class together and discussed the last chapter in the Gospel of John, but our class will resume next Tuesday, January 6 with our discussion and insights on Chapter 14. Franciene and I hope that you all are continuing to enjoy this beautiful Christmas season, and are feeling refreshed from our short vacation.
Chapter 14 is so rich, and contains so much that is so integral to our faith. When Jesus says in 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life”, His disciples still had questions for Him. And since they did not fully understand what He was telling them, Jesus later said in verse 27 “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard Me say to you ‘I go away, and I will come to you.'” He reminds us that the Holy Spirit will be present within the Church as a whole, and also personally present within each of God’s children individually. A footnote in my Bible says “For this reason, both the universal Church and individual Christians can be called “temples” of the Spirit.” What a comfort and an unmerited honor this is!
I think that what struck me most in this chapter, is that statement by Jesus saying that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. There is a quote in our workbook on page 123 by Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”, from 1993 that says:
“It is urgent to discover and set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of His commandments, and a truth to be lived out. A word, in any event, is not truly received until it passes into action, until it is put into practice. Faith is a decision involving one’s whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). It entails an act of trusting abandonment to Christ, which enables us to live as He lived (Galatians 2:20), in profound love of God and of our brothers and sisters.”
Have you had this experience in your own faith life? I know that I was brought up in the Catholic faith, and I remember being taught the basic foundation of our faith, and being interested in learning and understanding it. But I can certainly remember times when that was really that “intellectual assent”–the important truths may not have made the important and necessary descent from my head into my heart. I can remember times in my life when that journey was successful and my heart had pondered and understood something about our faith, that my head had only “agreed” to, without fully understanding. I think it’s so important what Saint John Paul II wrote about the necessity of that understanding being put into lived practice–a “decision involving one’s whole existence”. That really changes everything–it is as if a light comes on that shows us the path we are called to walk, and we understand that we want to walk it to meet our Merciful God.
Did you have some kind of an “encounter” with God that personally helped you understand or decide to grow in your faith? I think that so often we need an individual experience of God in our lives–whether it is a joyful or a difficult experience–to help us to internalize and act upon our faith. It’s as though the ground of our souls is tilled by our study and learning, and then when God decides the time is right, He comes Himself to sow the seeds of our true understanding, and from this understanding comes our response of love for Him. And I think that that response is what changes our lives.
As always, there is so much for us to learn and discuss in these chapters, and we look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday. Please feel free to contact Franciene or I if you have any questions or comments.
You all are in our prayers,

Gospel of John Chapter 15

Hi ladies,

I am sorry that I could not be with you last Tuesday.  I am hoping and praying that we can all be back together next week. Make sure you bundle up this weekend, as it will be bitterly cold.

While Chapter 15 of the Gospel of John is a short chapter, there is so much to see here. In the very first verse Jesus tells us that His Father is the vine grower, or vine dresser in some translations. As our textbook tells us, Israel was the vine which God had planted in the promised land. A vine dresser watches His vine. He tends to it each day. He lovingly prunes the vine. He protects the vine from pests which would destroy it. He does not just plant the vine and walk away.

In verse 16 of the gospel of John Jesus says to us: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…” This verse jumped out at me when I first read this chapter.

We see throughout the Gospels the “calling” of the Apostles. Many hundreds of people followed Jesus, listened to His teaching and even witnessed His miracles. But Jesus chose twelve to be His special friends, to know all that the Father had taught Him.

At the beginning of the Gospel of John we see Andrew and the Evangelist John following Jesus, because their teacher John the Baptist has pointed Jesus out as the Messiah. Jesus turns and asks the two “what are you looking for?” Uncertain what to say, John replies  “Rabbi, where do you stay?” In answer, Jesus says “Come, and you will see”. So it began. Each Apostle was invited – Peter, James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, Andrew, Matthew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean and Judas. These became the Twelve. Many other individuals followed Jesus, but He did not choose them for this special relationship. The twelve, whom He had chosen, stayed, even when other followers left . Of these twelve only one was lost, as was prophesied – Judas.

During the baptismal ceremony we hear the priest or deacon say: “I claim you for Christ,” and then the child is anointed with blessed oil in the sign of the cross on the child’s forehead. And so the newly baptized belong to Jesus. But even before our Baptism, Jesus had chosen us to be His special friends. Jesus chose us before time began. He created us. He knew us. He loved us even then.

Thinking back on my life and on the many missteps that I have made, I am surprised and humbled that Christ chose me. He knew what I would be. He knew the mistakes I would make, He knew when I would deny Him or be angry with Him, and yet He chose me anyway. When I fall in my faith journey, I cry out to the Lord, “Are you sure you didn’t make a mistake?”, “Are you sure that You still want me?” And I imagine that He just smiles in that quiet way He has, helps me up from where I have fallen, and walks with me calmly back to the sheepfold.

Jesus chose you, too. You didn’t choose Him, no matter what you think you might remember. Before you knew Him, He knew you. Before you could choose Him, He had already chosen you. Rejoice with me this week that we are chosen, by the One who is Love beyond understanding.

Remember that you can call Karen or me if you have any question. We hope to see you on Tuesday.

May God bless you all and keep you close to His heart.

Karen and Franciene

Gospel of John Chapter 16

Hello to you all,
I can’t believe how quickly these weeks go by, and we are coming near to the end of our study of John. Franciene and I hope that you all are continuing to enjoy this beautiful and enriching study.
These chapters are so rich, and they can help us to deepen and strengthen our faith. One of the things that really struck me when I was reading this chapter is verse 13. Jesus tells His disciples “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…” It made me think of how often I hear someone say they are a “seeker of truth”, and how “truth” is so valued when something is explained to us. In our culture, we put such a value on what we call “truth”–and we claim to always be looking for it in people and organizations, in candidates and in the products we buy. But Jesus reminds His disciples (and us) that truth is not something we create, nor is it something we discover on our own. It is not a subjective thing that is different for me than it is for you. It is the gift of God who is Himself the possessor of all truth. Jesus tells His disciples that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what is true. So often people don’t want to believe that there is an absolute and objective truth, because this sounds too authoritarian, and they feel it might inhibit their individual freedom. But we’ve read in an earlier chapter that Jesus also told His disciples that “the truth will make you free”. This kind of truth that Jesus is speaking of will liberate us from our human doubts, illusions and fears, and can keep us on the right path. Since God is the source of all truth, then the closer we draw to Him and listen to His word, the more we grow in the knowledge of Him and of His great love for us.
I can think of a few times in my life when I was following my own plans for my life, and then how–through time spent in prayer–I felt a sort of “nudge” that something ought to be changed, or done differently. It would have been very easy to dismiss these “nudges” as not corresponding with my idea of my life’s agenda, but I felt a certainty of their authenticity that made me seek to make the changes I felt God was asking me to make. I can only understand those “nudges” now as the Holy Spirit reflecting the truth to me in those situations–the eternal, unchanging, and unquestionable truth that I had been unable (or unwilling) to see on my own. To me this seems very comforting, as I can certainly make a mess on my own with very little trouble. But if I know that God desires only the best for each of us, and if we seek His will for our lives, then He will always provide us with the guidance we need from Him to grow closer to Him. Perhaps you have had similar experiences in your life that have convinced you of the Holy Spirit’s actions on your behalf.
As always, there is so much for us to learn and discuss in these chapters, and I continue to learn so much from each of you. Please feel free to contact Franciene or I if you have any questions or comments.
You all are in our prayers,
Franciene and Karen

Gospel of John Chapter 17

Hi ladies,

Karen and I hope that you are enjoying this lesson and staying warm and dry today. We have so few lessons yet to study in this beautiful Gospel of John.

In Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John we have come to the end of the last meal which Jesus shared with his Apostles. It has been a long, eventful day for Jesus and the Apostles. The night has now grown dark. A cool wind is blowing through the open windows. The meal has been eaten; the plates taken away. The candles are burning down, soon to be extinguished. The men shift in their seats, wrapping their cloaks about them as a protection from the coolness of the night. In Chapter 12 of the Gospel of John we read of the anointing of Jesus at Bethany by Mary, Lazarus’ sister, and the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Also in Chapter 12 Jesus speaks more forcefully about his coming death: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say, “Father save my from this hour? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.””

Since Chapter 13, at the beginning of this last meal together, Jesus has been giving the Apostles His final instructions, both in word and in deed. By washing their feet Jesus has shown the Apostles what it means to be a servant to all. Jesus has told them that this very night He would be betrayed, even as His betrayer sits among them, and that Peter would deny Him three times. Jesus has reminded the Apostles that they must stay connected to Him, like branches on a grapevine, if they are to bear fruit for His kingdom. Jesus has given the Apostles His Commandment, that they love one another as He has loved them. Jesus has reminded the Apostles that the way to the Father is through faith in Him. Jesus has warned the Apostles that the world will hate and persecute them for their faith in Him, just as they have hated Him. Jesus has promised the Apostles that He would not leave them alone, that He would send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with them always. And finally, Jesus has assured the Apostles that the sorrow and grief they will soon experience will turn to great joy that no one can take away.

The room is quiet, as the Apostles fight off the fatigue of a long day and try to comprehend all that Jesus has told them during these last hours. In their hearts there is a deep sadness, as they are fully aware now that their Lord and Teacher is returning to the Father, from Whom He had come. Then Jesus raises his eyes to heaven, and in a voice hardly above a whisper says, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your Son, so your Son may glorify You”. All heads turn once more to Jesus, the Apostles straining their ears to hear. Jesus final words in the presence of His friends are a prayer of love for the Apostles and for all those who will believe in Him through the Apostle’s words. Jesus prays that the Apostles will be faithful to what He has taught them and that the Father will protect all those who love Him.

Jesus prays “Holy Father, keep them in your name that You gave me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that You gave me, and I guarded them…”  These words are a reminder that the Father gave Jesus His name, as in Luke 1:31 the angel Gabriel tells Mary what her son’s name will be. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” These words of Jesus, that His Name comes from the Father, remind us of the majesty, power and purpose in the very name of Jesus.

As the Catechism says, “The invocation of the Holy Name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always…. This prayer is possible ‘at all times’, because it is not one occupation among others, but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus” (CCC 2668).

This week, as you go about your days, will you join me in lovingly repeating the Name of Jesus? Let us praise the One, who loved us “even unto death”, by keeping His Name constantly on our hearts and minds and lips. May the Holy Name of Jesus bless you and bring you peace.

As always you may call Karen or me, if you have any questions about the lesson. Enjoy your week and the lesson. We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.

Karen and Franciene

Gospel of John Chapter 18

Hello to you all,
I hope that you are all enjoying this beautiful chapter in the Gospel of John. I feel like even though I’ve read or heard these lines so many times, I can still see a different idea or a deeper understanding of an idea as I read these chapters again.
One thing that impressed me for the first time in this recent reading is the idea in verse 9 when Jesus says “Of those whom you gave me, I lost not one.” Even though this is a dreadful time of His arrest and imminent suffering and death, He is still mindful of those whom the Father has given Him, and He wants to make sure that they are safe and protected and not separated from Him. Even in an amazing chapter, this point seems especially amazing to me.
St Therese of Lisieux, in her autobiography “The Story of a Soul” touched on this topic when she wrote “O Jesus, it is not even necessary to say ‘when drawing me, draw the souls whom I love!’ This simple statement “draw me” suffices; I understand, Lord, that when a soul allows herself to be captivated by the odor of your ointments, she cannot run alone, all the souls whom she loves follow in her train; this is done without constraint, without effort, it is a natural consequence of her attraction to You. Just as a torrent, throwing itself with impetuosity into the ocean, drags after itself everything it encounters in its passage, in the same way, O Jesus, the soul who plunges into the shoreless ocean of Your love, draws with her all the treasures she possesses. Lord, you know it, I have no other treasures than the souls it has pleased You to unite to mine; it is You who entrusted these treasures to me, and so I dare to borrow the words You addressed to the heavenly Father, the last night which saw You on our earth as a traveler and a mortal….I want to be able to say to You.. ‘I have manifested Your name to those whom You have given me out of the world. They were Yours, and You have given them to me…'”
I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of wanting our loved ones to share in the riches and the beauty of our faith. When a family member, a friend or a co-worker is suffering a great loss and doesn’t have faith in God that could give them some hope in what seems to them to be a hopeless situation, we want to bring them the comfort that our faith can provide. In times of illness and suffering, it is so painful to see someone you love act as though they believe their ordeal is meaningless. This comment by Jesus seems to me to reminds us that we are called to bring the light that comes from our faith in God to those around us, and especially to those “whom God has given us”.
And that same idea makes me tremendously grateful for the family members and friends who who have shared their faith with me, and encouraged me on this journey. We do pray for others and we know that others pray for us, and this comment in this chapter really reminded me of the importance of this. I’m sure that each of you has your own stories about your own journey in faith.
As always, there is so much for us to learn and discuss in these chapters, and I continue to learn so much from each of you. Please feel free to contact Franciene or I if you have any questions or comments.
You all are in our prayers,
Franciene and Karen

Gospel of John Chapter 19

Hi Ladies,
We hope you are keeping warm and dry. The weather forecaster promises this weekend will be warm and sunny. I am praying that it is so. I also hope that Punxsutawney Phil was mistaken about the weeks of winter still left! I am ready for spring.Throughout Church history, since the death and Resurrection of our Lord, thousands upon thousands of words have been written concerning the Passion and Death of Jesus. Bishop Fulton Sheen’s beautiful work, The Life of Christ, has always been meaningful to me. I cannot add to the Bishop’s words to explain the horror of Jesus’ death, or the overwhelming Love which led Jesus to willingly sacrifice His life for all of us.

John 19:34-35: “But when they came to Jesus and saw the He was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out. An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth, so that you also may come to believe.”Having been at my mother’s side as she passed from this life, the last part of verse 34 had new meaning to me – “blood and water flowed from Jesus’ side“. I came to understand during my mother’s last days that fluid builds up in our lungs, as our other organs begin to fail. We can no longer take in oxygen to sustain our lives, to keep our hearts beating. So when the soldier thrust his spear through the side of our Blessed Lord Jesus, piercing His lungs and then His Sacred Heart, fluid (water) from the lungs was released, as well as blood from His Sacred Heart.

What I found curious about the passage quoted above was the strength of John’s statement about the eyewitness to Christ’s death. John, who was the witness, testifies to the release of the water and blood, which people of that time would have understood to mean that the person had died. John asserts that “his testimony is true”. Why did John think it necessary to be so strong in his testimony, to do more than merely report that there was a release of both fluid and blood?

From the Resurrection of our Lord to our own day, there have been “naysayers” – those who refuse to believe that Jesus died on the cross, or that He rose from the dead. The Gospel of Matthew, originally addressed to a mainly Jewish audience, reports in Chapter 28 that the leaders of the Temple sent a group of soldiers to watch Christ’s tomb. The Pharisees had remembered Jesus’ words that He would rise again. After Christ’s Resurrection and the soldiers testimony of the earthquake and the open tomb, the Pharisees bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body. Even today the popular novel and film, Da Vinci Code, imagines that Jesus’ had a life after the Crucifixion. Islam teaches that Jesus did not die in the Crucifixion.How can so many refuse to recognize the truth? Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, John wanted to be sure that people understood that Jesus had died, that there was no disputing the facts, and by understanding the truth, one could come to believe in Jesus. John the Apostle was present at the Crucifixion; he saw Jesus die; he affirms that he tells the truth of what he saw. In the days before photographic evidence, DNA testing, lie detectors or lawyer written contracts, a man’s word was his bond. A man’s word was as valuable to him as his life. What better proof could there be then, than the testimony of someone who was present at the death and crucifixion of Jesus? No doubt there will always be those who say that Jesus didn’t die, because the truth doesn’t fit the narrative that they are trying to sell. We have been so blessed, because we know the truth. We know the One who is Truth.

There was a beautiful hymn this week in the Magnificat, which I wanted to share with you. The hymn reminded me of one of Jesus last words: “I thirst”, and how in response to God’s thirst for us, we thirst for Him.

For God, the living God, I thirst.
Like dew upon the fleece come down.
Like rain upon the desert sand.
Like light into a darkened room.
As parched earth breaks for need of rain
So my heart breaks but not in vain.
When wilt thou on my vision burst?
For thee, my living God, I thirst.
Just a reminder that Chapter 19 is long – there are 25 questions to answer. They are not difficult questions, just a lot of them. Please don’t wait till Monday evening to begin. You would miss the beauty and peace of studying this chapter. You have all been so faithful in your study. We have only two more chapters after this one. We will have completed this study of the Gospel of John – just a little more time and effort until we can all take a break and have a well deserved celebration. Remember that you can call Karen or me if you have questions about the lesson.

We look forward to seeing you all again on Tuesday. May God bless you as you read and answer the questions in this chapter.

Karen and Franciene

Gospel of John Chapter 20

Hello to you all,
I can’t believe that we are almost done with this beautiful Gospel of John, but it has been such a wonderful adventure studying it together. I hope that you are all enjoying the study and the pleasure of learning from each other.
This chapter describing the resurrection of Jesus is an amazing story. We’ve heard it and read it so many times, and each time we allow ourselves to delve into its mysteries, we strengthen our faith, our hope and our love as we grow in our awareness and understanding of God’s great love for His people.
One thing that impressed me in studying this chapter was in the commentary in our workbook for this chapter, on page 174. It describes Peter and John running to the tomb on Easter morning after they had been told that the tomb is empty–what an image that is to our minds. The commentary tells us “Peter and John represent the charisms of love and authority within the Church…Jesus’ love is not a reckless love that flouts deference to authority. Both love and authority are of Jesus. Properly exercised, they are never in conflict.”
This idea gave me a lot to think about. It reminded me of how often to be in charge of something can bring out a lot of tendencies in us to focus on what we want to do, and what we want to achieve, and how we want to control things, and it is so easy to forget that if our service is not deeply rooted in love, then it will not achieve the ends that God has planned for it. Often I have not fully understood some authority over me, but when I try to look at that authority through the filter of love, it can become clearer to me and it is easier for me to work with. Sometimes in our culture today the teachings of the Church are resented because they sound too “authoritarian” to our ears, but as we spend time in prayer we can come to understand that they are based on love. And I had never thought about Peter and John representing these two charisms which are so inseparable and necessary to our ongoing faith.
And similar to that idea, in one of the footnotes in my Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, there is a fascinating allegory that is completely new to me, at least. Referencing those same lines describing Peter and John running to the tomb on Easter morning, it says: “The tomb is the Sacred Scriptures. Peter is faith, which is the first thing we bring to its pages, and John is understanding, which afterward enters and penetrates their meaning more deeply.”
I immediately thought of our Bible Study when I read this–each of us has responded to the nudges of the Holy Spirit and brought our individual faith to this study of Sacred Scriptures. I believe that through our study together and our discussions and sharing we have had the opportunity to grow in our understanding of their meaning–I know that it has been true for me.
As always, there is so much for us to learn and discuss in these chapters, and I continue to learn so much from each of you. Please feel free to contact Franciene or I if you have any questions or comments.
You all are in our prayers,
Franciene and Karen