AS THOU DIDST SEND ME INTO THE WORLD, SO I HAVE SENT THEM INTO THE WORLD
(A biblical reflection on THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [Year B] – May 13, 2018)
Gospel Reading: John 17:11-19
First Reading: Act 1:15-17,20-26; Psalms: Psalm 103:1-2,11-12,19-20; Second Reading: 1John 4:11-16
The Scripture Text
And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in Thy name, which Thou hast given Me, I have guarded them, and none of them is lost but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to Thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that Thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldst keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. As Thou didst send Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate Myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. (John 17:11-19 RSV)
The Church divides its calendar of Sunday readings into three parts called cycles, with a new cycle beginning on the first Sunday of Advent. The Church takes the cycle A Sunday Gospel readings from the Gospel according to Matthew, the cycle B Gospel readings from the Gospel according to Mark, and the cycle C Gospel readings from the Gospel according to Luke. John’s Gospel is part of all three cycles, usually appearing on special occasions such as Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Sundays during the Easter season. Most of the Sunday Gospel readings so far this year have been from the Gospel according to Mark because we are in the middle of the B cycle of readings.
One unusual feature in the Gospel according to John is that it uses the term “disciples” rather than “apostles”. Sometimes priests and ministers use these two words interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. In reality, they have very different definitions.
Jesus’ followers often addressed Him as “Rabbi”, a word that means “teacher”. The word “disciple” comes from a Greek word that means “student”. Some rabbis taught Jewish boys how to read and write in the synagogue schools, but other rabbis taught men how to be rabbis. In either case, the rabbi’s students were disciples. Therefore, John is correct when he uses this word to describe the twelve men whom Jesus chose to be His close companions because they were His students, training to become rabbis.
The word “apostle” comes from a Greek word that means “one who is sent”, and it refers to someone who is sent out to deliver a message. Matthew, Mark, and Luke call the twelve men whom Jesus chose to be His close companions “apostles” because Jesus sent them out to proclaim the Gospel message after He taught them privately. In other words, they were disciples or students first and were apostles after they successfully completed their period of instruction.
It is interesting that we do not find the word “apostle” in the Gospel according to John. The closest John comes to using this word is in today’s reading when Jesus, in His prayer to His heavenly Father, says He “sent” the Twelve out into the world. For John, the true follower of Jesus never stops being a disciple but is always willing to learn more about Jesus and His message.
What kind of disciples are you? How much time do you spend reading and studying Scripture so Jesus can use you as his apostle in the world today?
Source: Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 158-159.)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, send forth Your Spirit to make us loyal disciples of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, so that He can send us out to preach the Good News to the people we meet. Amen.
Jakarta, 11 May 2018
A Christian Pilgrim