The Beloved Disciple
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from SVD Bible Diary
2002 The readings of the day before Pentecost seem to have sour endings. In the final verses of Acts of the Apostles, we read about St. Paul being imprisoned in Rome. Likewise, in the final verses of the gospel of John, Jesus predicts the death of two favorite apostles: (Peter (21:18-19) and the Beloved Disciples (21:23). Peter and Paul died a martyr’s death in Rome. The beloved Disciple, although he did not die a martyr’s death, was a martyr too! “It is this disciple who testified these things,” (v. 24). The word “testify” or “witness” in Greek is marturien from which the English word “martyr” comes. These apostles testified to their faith until death. As they were being tried before the Jewish council, Peter and the apostles defended themselves saying: “We are witnesses to these things and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him,” (5:32). The Holy Spirit is also a witness, a martyr! It is the Holy Spirit that enables one to give witness to Christ.
We do not run out of martyrs in the Church. There are those who like, peter and Paul, bore witness to Jesus and His message by shedding their blood. Their blood nourished the life of the Church. Some years ago, a diocesan priest in Dasmarinas, Cavite, Fr. Jess Palileo, was assassinated because he denounced the evil of drug addiction. His death brought to “life” the message of Jesus (John 10:10). There are those who bear witness to Jesus like the beloved Disciple. They live ordinary lives in extraordinary ways. Our six catechists who teach 2,000 elementary kinds about Jesus in Bautista Elementary School are our modern beloved disciples in our mission center. They too are martyrs! Their sweat waters the roots of the Church. (Randy Flores, SVD Bible Diary 2002)
2004 The gospel presents to us two contrasting values: love on the one and betrayal on the other. These two contrasting values had been present throughout history. Betrayal had made and unmade kings, emperors and presidents and even the Son of Man had not been spared from this. Husbands and wives are in constant threat of betraying each other, children are susceptible to betraying their parents and friends and even the religious are plagued by it. It is a pervasive force that seeps through homes, schools, factories, offices, seminaries and convents. On the other hand, love had always been the source of joy, peace and hope throughout history and the Son of man had shown that love can overcome betrayal.
In our present time these two forces are still present. In our day-to-day life we experience betrayal and love. Yet, sometimes the pain of being loved, yes, it is but human to feel the pain of being betrayed but it is more Christian to feel the joy of love even in a state of pain. (Frt. Regino Antonio N.Penamora, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
2005 Annie was my pupil in a Sunday school, some 15 years ago. One day she surprised me by calling up and announcing that she was getting married. She wanted me to officiate at her wedding. But first she begged me to see her the day before the wedding, for she wanted to tell me something very important. When we met, she tearfully admitted that since I left the Sunday school, she felt very bad and never went to church again, until the wedding. Asked why, she simply said that she was so happy during those times in Sunday school. Then I disappeared. Her faith also disappeared.
Looking back I started examining my conscience. Did I preach Christ to these kids or make myself the center of our catechism? Did I teach them to love Christ, or unwittingly make myself the object of their love?
A commentary in the pastoral edition of the Bible has this to say: “if we should love….because this is the only commandment, we will achieve nothing, because each one understands love in his own way, while not having interiorized the thinking of Christ. We need to receive from the source of all love the ability to love selflessly. Christ asks us to first share His thinking. Thus we become His friends. Later we will produce the authentic fruit of love, whose source is Christ.”
If there was something I have learned from Annie, it is that I ought to love the way Christ wants to love, not the way I want to. (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2005)
2006 The readings of today remind me of two sayings: “Curiosity kills the car” and “All’s well that ends well.” The first indicates that sometimes curiosity can be harmful. Trying to know things about other people which is none of our business can be harmful to our relationship with them. People have a right to privacy. Jesus had just hinted that Peter would follow the same kind of death He himself had endured. Then Peter asked: “What about John?” Jesus answered with a sharp question: “What concern is that of yours?” In other words, that is none of your business. When ,as prefect in the seminary, I would reprimand one student caught for an infraction of the rule, he would usually answer: “what about the others?” We will not be judged in comparison with others, for Jesus said: “Be merciful as your Father is merciful,” (Luke 6:36). We are neither given equal abilities nor equal tasks. What is expected of us is to do what God wants of us that we use the talents and opportunities given to us.
Today is the day of endings. “All’s well that ends well.” It is the end of the last weekday of the Easter season. We read the last words of the Acts which conclude rather abruptly with Paul under house arrest in Rome. It was in Rome where, according to tradition, both Peter and Paul were later executed which then became the center of the church. We read also the last words of the Gospel according to St. John. He reminds us that many deeds and words of Jesus were left unwritten, thus not answering all our curious questions. He left it up to His followers to write the rest of the gospel with their own blood and sweat, guided by His spirit. It is up to us to continue. (Fr. Jim Risse, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
2007 The gospel reading contains the very last words of the last of the four gospels, the Gospel of John. The Risen Lord appears to two acknowledged leaders of the early Church, Peter and the Beloved Disciple. This unnamed disciple tells us that he wrote this gospel as his testimony and that “There are also many other things that Jesus did” but were no longer recorded. What could these be?
We can think here of a beautiful saying of Jesus quoted by St. Paul but not recorded in any of the four gospels. In reminding the leaders of the Christian community about their charity toward the poor, St. Paul says: “We must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for Himself said, ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35). There’s an anecdote though about a boy who boasts that his father has been living this teaching of Jesus even in his work, giving rather than receiving. Asked what his father’s job is, the boy responds: “He’s a professional boxer!” Joking aside, we witness until today many Christians living these words of wisdom.
The so-called Gospel of Thomas, written around 100-110 AD, although it is not part of our Sacred Scripture, could have preserved some earliest traditions of the teachings of Jesus not found in the four gospels. Here’s an example: Jesus’ teaching on wise fishing: “The human being is like a fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fishermen discovered a fine large fish. He threw all the little fish back into the sea and easily chose the larger fish. Anyone here with two good ears had better listen!” If we follow this, there will be no more illegal fishing and our seas and rivers would be teeming with life. (Fr. Randolf C. Flores, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
2008 As we end the season of Easter, we remind ourselves what this season is for. The appearances of Jesus make us recall not only what He did to gain our salvation but also empowered each and everyone of us His disciples to do what He has done and to bear fruit that would merit eternal life.\in one corner of Christ the King Seminary for the religious these words are written to describe the lives of those who are buried there: “To work gladly for God; to glow with zeal for the glory of God; to rest deep in the heart of God!” these words could also be an appropriate summary of Paul’s attitude to ministry as we read in the Acts of the Apostles: “The Lord is just. He loves just deeds; the upright shall see His face!” These words also offer a lot of comfort as I remember my brother William who passed away suddenly at a young age of fifty-one.
During the Liturgy of the Word, the night before his cremation, his friends who came in groups recalled with fondest memories the many things that he had shared with them and those whose lives he touched.
There had been so many things that had been said. Together with those left unsaid and unwritten, like the life story of Jesus, we are thankful for the “good news” that William had been to us. And now, we rest content with the knowledge that he now intercedes for us and also prepares for us a place where we too shall see the face of God. (Fr. Raymond Soriano, SVD Bible Diary 2008)
2009 I have read a story from a book written by Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD. The story is about a philosophy teacher who expounds a glass of water: “This is a glass of water. But is it a glass of water? And if it a glass of water, why is it a glass of water?” he keeps on philosophizing that he eventually faints of thirst!
Oftentimes we find ourselves preoccupied with too many concerns of living. We spend so much time worrying about the nonessentials in life. We forget that there is only one important thing in life and that is to follow the path of the Lord. In the gospel for today, Christ says, “What concern it is of yours? You follow me.” And as the song goes, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all the rest will fall in line.”
When I first arrived in Korea for my mission nineteen years ago I was so worried about what would I do in a country awash with material wealth and with a very dynamic Church with numerous priests and nuns to take care of the faithful? I kept on worrying that I might contribute nothing to the Church of Korea. Faced with the daunting task of learning a different language and adapt to an entirely new cultural environment, I thought I would not last more than three years in the country. Then I got reminded: why do I have to worry about all these things when my purpose in coming to Korea is to follow the will of God. By God’s grace I have lasted for 19 long years in this mission land.
The purpose of our existence is to follow the will of God and to praise His name. Nothing else is more important. Everything else will find its way if we focus on Him. He is the way, the truth and the life. Whoever believes in Him will not die but will have eternal life. (Fr. Eugene Docoy, SVD Bible Diary 2009)
2016 May 14, 2016 Saturday
Prior to meeting Jesus, the apostles surely had their own plans in life. Jesus came, called and gave them an alternative: a new life-changing vision, mission and goal. Except Judas, they followed Jesus to the end and succeeded with flying colors, including Matthias whose feast we celebrate today. How they succeeded in pursuing a way of life which was not originally theirs is a difficult riddle to solve.
I never wanted to become a priest. First I wanted to become a lawyer but later relented to civil engineering with a complete plan of life to pursue – to establish my own construction firm with me as CEO and to support a wife and 12 kids in a life of luxury.
Jesus’ alternative was not as attractive as my plan but I relinquished my own and pursued his offer. It was not easy to understand what went on inside me. Introspection uncovered my secret to living a happy priestly life: a basic instinct to obey which I acquired from family training. With obedience, a celibate and poor life is less difficult to live.
My original plan of a family of 14 living a life of luxury lingers on. Sometimes the force of that call strikes strongly to the point of crisis. I am very con dent, though, that Jesus supports me absolutely, so, NO FEAR.
As Jesus called and personally took care of the apostles, so too, he called and personally took care of me. As he calls you to your own vocation, he will also take care of you. All we have to do is obey without reservation. (Fr. Rodrigo Salac, SVD | HNU, Tagbilaran City, Bohol Bible 2016)
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