Thank you for joining the Good Shepherd Live Mass for Thursday 4/15/2021

Going Deeper – Gospel Reflections

Readings for Thursday 4/15/2021

Reading I

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in
and made them stand before the Sanhedrin,
the high priest questioned them,
“We gave you strict orders did we not,
to stop teaching in that name.
Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching
and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
But Peter and the Apostles said in reply,
“We must obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,
though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior
to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things,
as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

When they heard this,
they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death.

Responsorial Psalm

R.    (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R.    The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R.    The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R.    The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

The one who comes from above is above all.
The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.
But the one who comes from heaven is above all.
He testifies to what he has seen and heard,
but no one accepts his testimony.
Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.
For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,
but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,
but the wrath of God remains upon him.

The Last Gospel

John 1:1-14

In the beginning* was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

The Meaning of Love

The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. John 3:35

It’s interesting to note that the words of today’s Gospel appear to be from Saint John the Baptist, since they come within the context of his testimony to Jesus. Some commentators, however, suggest that they are words that were actually spoken by Jesus and that the Evangelist inserts them here as a continuation of the testimony of the Baptist, attributing them to Saint John. Regardless of who actually spoke these words, the line quoted above gives us much to reflect upon in that it gives us insight into the very meaning and practice of true love.

What is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? A drive or a desire for something or someone? Of course, the secular understanding of love is much different than a divine understanding of love. Oftentimes the secular view of love is more self-centered. To “love” someone or something is to want to possess that person or object. “Love” from a secular view focuses upon the attraction and desire. But true love, from a divine perspective, is very different.

The line quoted above tells us two things: First, we are told that “The Father loves the Son…” But then we are given a definition of that love. We are told that love in this case results in the Father giving “everything over” to the Son. When we consider the word “everything” in this passage, it is clear that this can only refer to the Father giving Himself to the Son in totality. Within the life of the Father, everything means His very essence, His being, His personhood, His whole divine self. The Father does not say, “I want;” rather, the Father says, “I give.” And the Son receives all that the Father is.

Though this is deep and mystical language, it becomes very practical for our lives when we understand that divine love is not about wanting, taking, desiring, feeling, etc. Divine love is about giving. It’s about the giving of oneself to another. And it’s not just about giving some of yourself away, it’s about giving “everything” away.

If the Father gave everything to the Son, does that mean that the Father has nothing left? Certainly not. The beautiful nature of divine love is that it is never ending. The more one gives themself away, the more they have. Thus, the gift of the life of the Father to the Son is infinite and eternal. The Father never ceases to give, and the Son never ceases to receive. And the more the Father gives Himself to the Son, the more the Father becomes the essence of love itself.

The same is true in our lives. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that love should only go so far. But if we are to strive to imitate and participate in the love the Father has for the Son, then we must also understand that love is about giving, not receiving, and that the giving must be a gift of everything, holding nothing back. We must give ourselves away to others without counting the cost and without exception.

Reflect, today, upon your view of love. Look at it from a practical perspective as you think about the people whom you are especially called to love with a divine love. Do you understand your duty to give yourself to them completely? Do you realize that giving yourself away will not result in the loss of your life but in the fulfillment of it? Ponder the divine love that the Father has for the Son and make the radical and holy choice today to strive to imitate and participate in that same love.

My loving Lord, the Father has given all to You, and You, in turn, have given all to the Father. The love You share is infinite and eternal, overflowing into the lives of all Your creatures. Draw me into that divine love, dear Lord, and help me to imitate and share in Your love by fully giving my life to others. Jesus, I trust in You.

Source of content: mycatholic.life