Tag Archives: Last Supper Discourse

That the World May Believe That You Sent Me

7th Week of Easter, Thursday

John 17:20-26

As the Father sends the Son, so the Son sends the disciples into the world. From one little band, the seed of the Body of Christ sown into the earth blossoms into the Church.

“I pray not only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”

Seems like a tall order, doesn’t it? Did Jesus consider the messiness of church politics, and how violently minds differ and tend toward disagreement? Of course he did. It’s not a “tall order,” but a heavenly mandate with the promise of a Paraclete. The fact that politics can and have been messy does not get us off the hook. Rather, it reflects the glory of the Trinity who respects our freedom and human dignity to work towards the love that fulfills our prayer to the Father: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As noted earlier, friendship and love are not forced or automatic. 

How are the children of the Father to become one, as the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father? More may be accomplished by deep silence and prayer than by any other action. The Blessed Virgin Mary brought heaven to earth by her hidden “yes” to God, and her life of silence, love, humility and obedience. She nurtured the Son of the Father for thirty years before his public ministry. Mary is truly the Mother of Apostles given to St. John the Beloved at the foot of the Cross. Jesus knew that the disciples would face hostility and gave them his Mother to love them as sons in the Son. That includes all of us.

“And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me…”

Our journey back to the Father begins with Christ’s initiative to become one with us, “I in them.” The Father who dwells in the Son by nature (“you in me”) adopts us through Christ Incarnate.

“…that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.” Through and through, Jesus is relentlessly ad Patrem (toward the Father) in all that he says and does. It really is astounding—a point so blatant, yet so easy to miss.

“Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

With Christ’s Ascension, the way is open to fulfill his wish “that where I am they also may be with me.” Our Body, the one Body of Christ, has an “upward” inclination to be transfigured and transformed for union and communion in the Trinity, rejoicing in their eternal glory.

“Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”

The world could never know the Father unless the Son revealed him. So singularly unique is the revelation of the Trinity that it exceeds all human philosophy. One is stunned into silence at the thought of it. 

-GMC

That They May Be One

John 17:11b-19

“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one.”

What’s in a name? In the Old Testament, names stood for the character and mission of a person, as when Abram became Abraham, or Jacob became Israel. The divine name given to Moses at the burning bush, “I AM WHO I AM,” was so sacred that no one pronounced it except the High Priest once a year in the Holy of Holies. 

In Jesus, the great and all-holy “I AM” steps into our world and reveals himself as the Son of the Father, both of whom are “I AM.” When he taught the disciples to pray, “Abba, Father,” he overturned centuries of unapproachability surrounding the four-letter name, YHWH.

Abba, keep your dear ones in your name, in your heart, in your person, in your womb—that they may be one just as we are one. “We”—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their self-emptying Love—is the model for our personal communion. Jesus’ prayer to the Father reveals that the oneness of the Three Divine Persons is rooted in the Father. Union and communion of persons have a personal principle.

“When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Friendship is not forced or automatic. Even a close disciple of Christ has the freedom to leave him. 

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the Evil One (or ‘from evil’). They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.”

We are pilgrims and sojourners in this life. While forces of disunity and opposing personal wills pull the earth into disintegration, Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father who is Truth, opens the door to reintegration. Every heart consecrated in their truth radiates the energy of divine grace to heal the world. Veni Creator Spiritus!

-GMC

“All mine are thine, and thine are mine”

7th Week of Easter, Tuesday

John 17:1-11a

“…everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.”

Contemplation of divine truths requires deep silence and listening. One does not come before these mysteries expecting to “settle” conundrums or untie knots once and for all. Wonder and awe grow progressively as we allow the Holy Spirit to work on our hearts, more often blank and speechless than filled with insight. Much is accomplished by simply admitting, “I have no idea what you are talking about, Lord.” He likes our honesty and will help us. We are like Jacob wrestling with the angel when we read Scripture. 

Today we are given the exceptional privilege of listening in on a divine dialogue, for Jesus is praying aloud to the Father. What do Divine Persons talk about? What do they do all day? Since they do not live in a world of means and ends, their action is not directed towards anything outside of themselves. They glorify one another, take delight in one another, and overflow with superabundant Love, Light, Energy, Goodness, Joy… And since there was never a time when they were not, their triple Glory is Ultimate Reality.

If there is nothing outside of the Divine Persons, what is Jesus referring to when he says, “All mine are thine, and thine are mine?” 

He is not saying “I am Thou” and “Thou art Me,” because he makes it clear that they are distinct Persons. But he uses the possessive pronouns, “mine” and “thine.” Since divinity has no parts, what is possessed must be nothing other than what they are (“having” is “being”). What the Father is, the Son also is, yet the Father is not the Son. 

The mystery is far deeper than our concepts. Recognizing the oneness of the Divine Persons does not reveal the content of their oneness. It is like seeing the surface of the ocean, but not the thousands of feet beneath with all of its wild, wonderful, and colorful life forms. 

If an ocean is so full of life and variety, what must life in the Trinity be like?

-GMC

“I am not alone”

7th Week of Easter, Monday

John 16:29-33

After two thousand years, we are still grappling with the depths of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper. Yet after only a few minutes, the disciples come forth with the glib response, “Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech. Now we realize that you know everything and that you do not need to have anyone question you. Because of this we believe that you came from God.”

The disciples are so far from understanding Jesus’ words, St. Augustine once commented, “that they do not even understand their own lack of understanding his words.”

Real conviction is not only in words but in deeds. Later that evening, Peter will declare with false confidence that even if he has to die with Jesus, he will not deny him. We know the outcome of that statement. Jesus knows our hearts better than we do. He tells them that the hour has arrived when they will scatter and leave him alone. 

“But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” Whether Jesus is praying in the mountains in solitude, or tied up like a criminal in a mob, he is not alone. His eternal Sonship is primordial, immutable, and interminable. Remaining ever in the Father’s Womb, he began to be in time in the Virgin’s womb at the moment of conception. The mystery of the Incarnation is ensconced within the mystery of the Trinity. 

“Show us the Father,” Philip had asked earlier, but the only answer he received was, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” The Divine Persons dwell within one another in an ineffable manner beyond space, time, and all categories of thought. The amazing thing is that Jesus has come to bring us also into this communion. If this is taken seriously, at no moment are we ever alone. To be a person is to be in communion, even in physical solitude. The indwelling of the Trinity is wholly interior—we are “temples of the Holy Spirit”—though its love radiates and can even be visible as at the Transfiguration.

“I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” 

The last thing the disciples expected of their great hero and conqueror was his crucifixion. 

-GMC

Who is the Father?

Greek icon, The Mystical Supper

7th Week of Easter, Sunday

John 17:1-11a

“Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.”

The word “glory” rings several times in this passage, evoking an unfamiliar and unworldly milieu. Jesus asks the Father to reveal to the disciples the splendor and brilliance of their love, a glimpse of which was given at the Transfiguration. The hour has come in which the Son will be glorified by being disfigured on the Cross. How can glory be manifested in such opposite ways—in light (Transfiguration) and darkness (the Cross)? The clue is in Christ’s constant turning to the Father. Jesus does nothing on his own, but only what the Father wills. The bodily eye may “see” disgrace on the Cross, but the spiritual eye sees divine love and glory.

“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” Eternal life is knowing the Father through the Son. Revelation alone opens this path to the hidden Person of the Father, about whom we know so little. Since Jesus cannot seem to speak enough about him, it must be worth every ounce of our energy to seek him.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept my word.”

Some translations have “from the world” instead of “out of the world.” In any case, the Father is neither in nor out of any world. He is uncontainable. The meaning seems to be that the ones given to Jesus originally belonged to the Father. Thus they are given to him. As the Son is begotten of the Father, so is each one of us. The inviolability of persons created in the image of the Son is rooted in the Father. 

“I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours…”

Is there a line of division between “the world” and the children of the Father? Perhaps “the world” might be understood as the emptiness of separation from the Father—the tendency toward nothingness. Outside of the Father, there is nothing.

“All mine are thine, and thine are mine,” in the elegant English translation. These are mysteries too deep. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds to know the Father and the one he sent, Jesus Christ. 

-GMC

Mysteries Too Deep

Icon of the Trinity by Andrei Rublev

6th Week of Easter, Saturday

John 16:23-28

“On that day” of rejoicing, Jesus says, “you will not question me about anything.” But on this day, “whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

At this hour, Jesus speaks to us in figures. But “the hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father.”

One possible reading of these statements is to understand Jesus’ use of time words such as “day” and “hour” in the light of eternity. The time for asking, questioning, and dialogue is now while we are living in the state of earthly division. When we see the Father “face to face” on the day of eternity, words will no longer be necessary. We will be of one mind and heart with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, distinguished only by the uniqueness of each person within the communion. 

“On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.” In multiple translations, Jesus says that he will not ask or pray to the Father on our behalf on that day. Why not? 

The implication is that the Father will embrace us directly, when we are fully incorporated into the Body of Christ. Christ came to unite what was divided to free us to be whole persons. Unlike the present state of division in which persons experience one another as parts outside of parts in material extension, in that hour of communion in the Trinity, each person in the Eternal Womb of the Father will be whole and entire, rejoicing and enjoying the unique and unrepeatable gift of one another. 

Communion will be radically wholesome and self-giving, unlike the atomized, individualistic condition in which we now find ourselves. Matter itself will be transfigured, with spiritual properties as witnessed in Christ’s resurrected body. “All mine are thine, and thine are mine,” as in the life of the Trinity, save each unique identity. Divine Love is diversity-in-unity.

The Father receives us with open arms through the Son whom he sent, for “he who has seen me has seen the Father.” We who follow in the footsteps of Christ also go back to the Father.

Thus ends this reflection in limping figures. Where concepts fail, may the love of the Trinity lift us up on eagle’s wings.

-GMC

Your Hearts will Rejoice

6th Week of Easter, Friday

John 16:20-23

Gaze upon a flower for one minute and observe its movement. It appears to be still, but it is constantly changing, growing or fading. The wind blows and it sways. Light and shadows flicker continuously so that it appears in a slightly different shade every second. A moment passed cannot be recaptured. Impermanence is the mark of our human experience.

Yet “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee” (St. Augustine). We yearn for permanence and eternity, which Jesus now promises to his grieving disciples: “But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take that joy away from you.”

At the Ascension, Jesus takes our Body—humanity and the cosmos transfigured—into communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. In Christ we are destined for a joy that nothing on earth can destroy.

-GMC

One Day at a Time

6th Week of Easter, Wednesday

John 16:12-15

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”

With the coming of the Messiah, Israel has been stretched far beyond its comfort zone. What words can express the mystery of God’s hidden, inner communion now being manifested to the chosen people? 

The “Spirit of truth… will take from what is mine and declare it to you… Everything that the Father has is mine.” In these enigmatic statements, Jesus intimates that the Three Divine Persons are of one mind. The truth that the Spirit imparts is one and the same truth possessed by the Father and the Son.

Thus, the Spirit “will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.”

All time is present to the Spirit, for whom a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The new Israel, like the old, will continue its pilgrimage with the Lord one day at a time. With the gentle and patient guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mysteries possessed by the Triune Lord will be revealed in gradual steps. 

-GMC

The Father’s Plan

6th Week of Easter, Tuesday

John 16:5-11

“But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

The One who sent Jesus sees all the generations before and after Christ as one Body in need of reunion and restoration. Yet one earthly life lasts but a brief span. How will the mission be completed after Christ’s resurrection?

In the Father’s plan, persons born again in the Spirit will perpetuate the life of Christ on earth, bringing it to completion. This new life in grace would cause St. Paul to exclaim, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Such a close union was not experienced even by the disciples during Jesus’ entire earthly sojourn. A deeper, more interior union and communion needed to be effected.

“And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation…”

From east and west, north and south—every tribe, nation, people and tongue—the Advocate will convict human persons of the truth of Jesus Christ, of his eternal Sonship, and of the futility of a world separated from the Father. 

In the fire of the Holy Spirit, the second Adam, with all of his brethren gathered into one, will reopen the Paradise of personal communion in the heart of the Father. Eternity begins in time, in each human heart.

-GMC

The Spirit of Truth

Simon Ushakov, Last Supper, 1685

6th Week of Easter, Monday

John 15:26-16:4a

At the nexus between heaven and earth, the Son and the Spirit orchestrate our grand return to the Origin. From the Father and to the Father, the Holy Spirit conceived the Son in the womb of the Virgin. By baptism “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” He now conceives the Son in the hearts of human persons, commencing their return to the Womb of the Father. 

“When the Advocate comes… 

Or Paraclete, Counselor, Comforter, Intercessor, Strengthener… “he will testify to me. And you also testify…” 

As one, synergistic team. The Holy Spirit does not testify apart from us, nor we apart from Him. 

The apostles have a special role to play “because you have been with me from the beginning.” 

The transition from the Old Covenant to the New will be filled with turbulence as centuries-old traditions violently resist change. 

“They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.” Religious zeal, as in the case of St. Paul before his conversion, may be sincerely wrong.

“They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.” The apostles, too, need to be strengthened in this truth in order to give it to others.

Before Pentecost, the disciples may feel like “orphans,” but when the Advocate comes—“the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father”— they will know with certainty, in union with the Son, that they have a Father in heaven.

-GMC