Reflecting on the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost: Three Days after Sunday (Year C)
Psalter: Psalm 98
Old Testament: Zechariah 8:1-17
Gospel: John 5:19-29
Psalter: Psalm 123
Old Testament: Job 25:1—26:14
Gospel: John 5:19-29
Grant that as we serve you now on earth, so we may one day rejoice with all the saints in your kingdom of light and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own but only what he sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father[a] does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him (John 5:19-23).
In our human existence, we spontaneously see as polar opposites freedom and following someone else. The alternative seems to be: either I do what I want, and then I am free, or else I obey passively another person or an outward reality. If I am free, we think, I am necessarily fully in control of myself.
When we read the Gospel, however, especially Saint John’s Gospel, we discover that “in Jesus, a relationship with God and freedom were not mutually exclusive but rather reinforced one another” (Letter from Kenya). In the above text, Jesus says twice that he can do nothing by himself. At the same time, he says that he exercises prerogatives that normally belong to God alone: to give life and to judge.
The key to the riddle is found in a self-description of Jesus that reveals his basic identity. He is the Son, not simply because he is born of someone else, but because his entire being flows from a Source that he calls “the Father” or “the One who sent me”. At every moment, he receives everything from that Source. His being is a being-in-relation. So for him, the fact of always seeking to do the will of that “Other” and the fact of being fully himself and thus free are not at all in contradiction with each other, because his being is made up of listening and responding.
In addition, Jesus brings his followers into his own relationship with God. We become sons in the Son (see Romans 8:14-17). It is thus up to us to find our freedom, like Jesus, not by following our own illusions but by welcoming the gifts with which God wants to fill us and by attempting to put into practice his loving will.
Concretely, how did Jesus bring together personal freedom and listening to the Father?
When do I feel free? Have I ever found freedom in putting God’s will into practice?
PRAYER: God of faithful surprises, throughout the ages you have made known your love and power in unexpected ways and places. May we daily perceive the joy and wonder of your abiding presence and offer our lives in gratitude for our redemption. Amen.
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