6th Sun Easter B
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This Sunday’s Gospel picks up from last Sunday’s so we should remember that the context for these words is the image of Jesus as the vine and we as the branches receiving our life from him. In that context there are two startling ideas to which I want to draw notice. Firstly, the way in which Jesus introduces the notion of commandments. After telling his disciples of the profundity of his love and exhorting them to abide in that love, he then says to keep his commandments. Too easily people, often good religious people, see keeping the commandments and rules of religion as a stepping stone towards experiencing the love of God. ‘If I am good enough, then I will know God’s love.’ What Jesus teaches is the opposite: it is when we have known the love of God and abide in it that we can keep his commandments. Then we realise even more the love of God in our lives.
Secondly, Jesus calls his disciples, and by implication us, ‘friends’. We have heard this so often we fail to realise what a startling shift in religious consciousness it is. John was writing in the Greco-Roman world and Aristotle, the influential Greek philosopher, had stated that God could never be friends with human beings as friendship was a relationship that took place between equals and we can never be the equal of God. Here we see one of the profound implications of the Incarnation. In Jesus, God became human and not only saved us from our sin but actually made possible the capacity to be friends with God. The way for that to happen is to abide in God’s love and to keep the commandment to love as we have been loved.