Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 262: Acts 2:36-41. Psalm 33:4-5,18-19, 20,22. John
There are two "firsts" in today's liturgical readings. In the Acts of the
Apostles Peter continues his preaching and witnessing to the Passion,
Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. This results in the first great
conversion and movement into the Christian Church. Apostolic witness and
preaching are confirmed by the courage and faith of the apostles who had
gathered in the upper room with Mary and the women and the friends of
Jesus. Now the doors are flung open and Peter takes the lead role in his
proclamation that Jesus is Lord and Savior and that the people need only to
confess their sins and believe in Jesus as the Risen One. This earliest
mission of Peter and the Apostles results in an abundant and the foundation
of the oldest community gathered in Jesus' name, that of Jerusalem. Soon
James will be martyred in 42 A.D. just a few years after Jesus' death.
Another James will take over the leadership as overseer of the newly
founded church community of Christian Jews.
The other first is seen in John's Gospel in one of the most dramatic and
emotional narratives of the Resurrection. Mary Magdalene is at the center
of this magnificent pericope. She comes to survey the empty tomb and finds
two angelic creatures there who testify to the resurrection of Jesus. She
remains and hears the voice of someone whom she thinks is the "gardener".
It is the voice of Jesus and as soon as he calls her by name, "Mary", she
is totally shaken and moved with loving emotion and cries out , "Rabbouni"
that is my teacher. She it is who has the first personal experience of the
love of the risen Jesus and she responds with all her being. She now is
witness to the other apostles and becomes known in our tradition as "the
apostle to the apostles." She is told by Jesus not to cling to him for he
is not yet united with the Father in the heavenly realms. She understands
this and takes up her task as an apostle and a woman who has found her true
love in Jesus. It will last forever and ever.
John, the Evangelist, loves to emphasize the personal relationship we all
need to have with Jesus. Almost all of his intense and intimate meetings
with people lead to this relationship. Just think of Nicodemus, the woman
at the well, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Lazarus, the man born blind, the
cripple at the pool of Bethesda and the Beloved Disciple and the Mother of
Jesus. Agape love is intimate love of a transformative kind that goes well
beyond the erotic and even the bonds of friendship. This is what John's
Gospel emphasizes in the last chapters of his twofold work called the Book
of Signs (chapters 1-12 which center on total faith commitment in Jesus)
and the Book of Glory or Agape (wherein the verb agapan is used more
frequently than anywher else in the whole of the Scriptures). The Beloved
Disciple is the one who leaned on the breast of Jesus and heard the
heartbeat of that human person and this happened at the Last Supper. As
Origen tells us in the third century: "No one may understand the meaning of
the Gospel of John, if he or she has not rested on the breast of Jesus and
received Mary from Jesus, to be his or her mother too." (Commentary on
John 1,6). Amen.
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