All posts tagged: Gospel of John

Holy Thursday: When Love Enters a Cosmos Turned in on Itself

When pure love, divine love, agape, enters a world turned in on itself, a world whose operating system is self-love, closed off by fear from any other possibility, such pure love is neither fully received nor fully reciprocated. In such a fallen and rebellious cosmos, that pure love, divine love, encountering indifference, denial, and rejection, is not welcomed with humility and delight, but is refracted in suffering. Such pure love can be expressed fully in a sinful and contorted world only as sacrifice. For rational creatures whose will is wounded—that is, for us—real love, pure love, agape, will always involve some kind of dying. St. John tells us that as Jesus initiated his Last Supper with his disciples, he was fully aware of what he was doing, fully aware of what this meal anticipated and made sacramentally present, fully aware of it was going to cost him. Further, the Evangelist links this full knowledge with a fullness of love, the real impetus of his action, commenting that Jesus loved his own—and loved them perfectly, or …

Friendship with the Beloved Disciple as Type in a Theology of Friendship

In the Fourth Gospel, the nameless character is introduced at the Last Supper as “the one whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). He is explicitly named again under the Cross (John 19:26), at the empty tomb (John 20:2), and post-resurrection on the lakeshore in Galilee (John 21:7- 20). Each time this Beloved Disciple appears in the narrative, his friendship with Jesus is defined more fully through the context of the scene as well as in the repetition of his title as the “Disciple whom Jesus loved.” From the beginning of the fourth Gospel, Jesus is depicted as having access to the innermost being and secrets of God. In John 1:18, Jesus’s relationship with God is translated in several synonymous ways, any one of which conveys that he enjoys the deepest of intimacy: “in closest relation with the Father” or “at the side of the Father” or, more poetically, “in the bosom of the Father.” A similar portrait is given at the Last Supper. There, in John 13:23, the Beloved Disciple appears “reclining next to the breast …

Friendship with God is the Basis for All Friendships

The imagery of friendship is present in the first half of John’s narrative, but it comes into sharpest focus in the second half of the Gospel, particularly during the Last Supper, when Jesus refers to his disciples as “friends” in John 15:15:  “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” The reference to friendship that precedes John 15:15 prepares the way for this astounding transformation of relationship with Jesus. Specifically, this reference appears in three pericopes concerning the characters of John the Baptist, Jesus’s friends from Bethany, and the Beloved Disciple. In these three different and distinct relationships, the author of the 4th Gospel makes use of the conceptual field of friendship, relationships which, in some ways, mirror that between Jesus and the Father. John the Baptist, the “Friend of the Bridegroom” The noun φίλος (friend/beloved) appears for the first time in John …

Imagining the Gospels

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 Jn 1:1–4) There are those beautiful, singular memories from childhood that sear into your brain, sticking with you for mysterious, inaccessible reasons. Some of them are quite insignificant, and when they roll around into the conscious forefront of my mind at odd occasions, I never cease to wonder at what odd chemistry of impressionability and emotional resonance has caused them to be burned into my memory. As I was studying for my Scripture class during last finals week, …