Lectio Divina Sunday Gospel Readings RSS
“You are witnesses of these things.” What a privilege it must have been to witness Christ risen from the dead, and to witness all the miracles, preaching, and ministry of Jesus. We also are Christ’s witnesses, though. How has he worked in my life and in yours to bring us closer to the truth? For those who don’t know Jesus, the concept of being his witnesses today may seem abstract. But for those who have encountered the Truth, Love, or the miracles and wonders of Life, know that the particular qualities of these things point to the fact that he is indeed a person who can be met through these things. We may not have witnessed Jesus Christ walking in the flesh on earth, but I’m sure many of us can say that we have witnessed things he has done in our lives nonetheless.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
This verse is so well-known for the way it shows the saving power of God, that people often ignore the criteria Christ mentions in order to have eternal life. The word “believe” is not just a mere formality. It is the condition. St. James said “Faith without works is dead.” Christ is giving a formula for success in the same way a parent would tell his or her child how to achieve success in anything. Once a gift is given, it needs to be used. A father may say to his son. “I love you so much that I am giving you my guitar, so that if you practice every day you will become a great guitar player.” Or, “I love you so much that I’m giving you the football my dad gave me, so if you practice throwing it every day you will become a great quarterback.” Parents could buy the most expensive equipment or tutoring in an attempt to get their child to learn something, but practice and willingness on their part is still necessary. For salvation though, believing in Christ is not the same as simply believing that one day you’ll be a great guitar player. Believing is doing, and one can argue it’s the same with all other aspirations as well. I can believe I am a writer all I want, but if that belief does not lead to me actually writing then my belief is pointless. What does it mean to believe in Christ? He said we know a tree by the fruit it bears. We can claim to have faith in Christ, but if that faith does not bear fruit in our life that’s a good indication that we are not putting our faith into action.
“This is my beloved son. Listen to him.”
At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This time the Father says, “Listen to him,” while calling him by the same title, “My beloved son”. It’s important to keep these two verses connected. The Father tells us to listen to his son not only because he is his son, but also because the Father is pleased with him. We ought to follow Christ because he does the will of the Father. Without this connection, one can claim that the Father is just ordaining Jesus by some divine rite, or divine right. But the Father’s words are all the more relevant when we consider that the son obeys the Father, and this pleases the Father. Similarly, if one were to read Matthew 3:17, while not reading on to the Transfiguration, one could assume that the Father’s words at Christ’s baptism are just sentimental or typical of a relationship between a father and a son. Rather, God is saying that he sent his only son, not only to die for our sins but also to show the way to him. Listening to Christ is the way to God not only because he is God’s son, but also because God is pleased with his son. This is why Christ expects the same of us, saying “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you,” (John 15:9) and “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).