TUESDAY OF PASSION WEEK


Qeryana I (Old Testament Reading I): Gen 37:23-36
Qeryana II (Old Testament Reading II):

Josh 22: 30-23:1

Engarta (Epistle Reading):

Heb 4:14-6:8

Evangalion (Gospel):

John 12:12-43

 

Gen 37:23-36 continues the story of Joseph and tells us what the brothers did to him after having stripped him of his robe. They sat down and began eating when they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on the way to Egypt and at the wise council of Judah they decided to sell Joseph to them instead of letting him starve to death, and as they agreed, he was lifted up from the pit and was sold for twenty pieces of silver. The Ishmaelites took him to Egypt and sold him to pharaoh’s officer Potiphar.  After this the brothers slaughtered a goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood to be taken to their father Jacob as a proof that his beloved son was devoured by a wild animal. Jacob mourned the death of his son, as was the custom, tearing his garments and putting on sack cloth on his loins for many days. Here we remember that Jesus was betrayed by one of his disciples for thirty pieces of silver (Mt 26:15). Jealousy combined with desire for ‘mamona’/wealth can lead humans to any crime!

 

Joshua 22:30-23:1 narrates an interesting story. Near the Jordan in Canaan the Reubnites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh built a great altar. The Israelites heard about it and was annoyed and gathered at Shiloh planning a war against the people who made the altar. However, they sent the priest Phineas and one chief each from the ten tribes to the other party accusing them of having built a new altar which meant their turning away from the Lord. The Reubnites and others declared that they did it only that the future generation of Israel may not tell the generation of the Reubnites and others that “the Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you; you Reubnites and Gadites have no portion in the Lord.’ Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar… to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord in his presence…” (23:25-27). Priest Phineas and the leaders were convinced of this explanation and the news was taken home to the people who said, “It is a witness between us that the Lord is God”(v.34) This story clearly proves that the cultural, geographic linguistic and cultural differences with their individualities cannot be a reason for lack of communion among us. The Catholic Church is a communion of individual churches with different liturgies, spiritual visions and style of living.

 

Heb 4:14-6:8 the passage speaks about Jesus the High Priest who knows our human weakness and was even tempted severely without sinning; verily he was the Son of God become Son of man. This gives us enough confidence to approach him with trust. Jesus’ offering to the Father was entirely different from what the Old Testament priests offered; he “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest” (8:7-10). Jesus’ very life was an offering to the Father. Living the will of God, our humble lives too become pleasing offerings to the Lord.

 

According to the letter a priest, who is himself a weak person who offers sacrifices first for his own sins and then for the people, is chosen by God as Aaron was. Jesus too was declared priest, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek’ (Heb 6:5 > Ps 110:4). If those who became partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of the word of God, leave aside all these, their return to faith is difficult, if not impossible. Faith is a divine gift to be guarded vigorously and jealously.

 

Jn 12:20-26: Here we are told that some Greeks met Philip and enquired about the possibility of meeting Jesus. With his friend Andrew, Philip went to Jesus and told him about their desire to meet him. The response of Jesus was astounding: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just as a single grain; but if it dies, it brings much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (vv.24-25). Here it is hinted that Greeks and other nations too are included in the salvific mission of Jesus. R.E. Brown comments on the episode: “The coming of the Gentiles is so theologically important that the writer never tells us if they got to see Jesus, and indeed they disappear from the scene much the same manner that Nicodemus slipped out of sight in ch. iii.”[1] Jesus is the saviour of all, Greeks, Egyptians or Indians.

 

Here Jesus makes an important statement concerning life which is to be eternally saved and not lost in temporary affairs. Life in the true sense is of great value and it is not to be devalued or diminished. The word ‘love’ and ‘hate’ contrasted is used in the Bible in the sense of ‘preference.’ That we should ‘love God’ and ‘hate our relatives,’ (Lk 14:26) only means that we love God more than all others (Mt 10:37; Rom 9:13; Mal 1:3). In everything, a disciple has to follow Jesus. Jesus narrates the tiny parable of the seed that dies and gives life. We are also told about the glorification of Jesus which points to his crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. According to John, the hour of Jesus’ dying on the cross is the ‘hour’ of his glorification. Jesus spoke about his being lifted up from the earth that will draw people to him (v.32). Jesus had already declared that, “just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (3: 14). Then we have the great statement about his identity as God, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he” (8:28; 3:14). Here we are reminded of God’s revelation to Moses as “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14). The people ask who the Son of man is and without answering it Jesus spoke about light and darkness in which people walk or live and according to which the Son of man would judge them.

 

John does not make any reference to the agony of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, but he writes enough about the agony of Jesus when he reports his prayer, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name” ( vv.27-28). Here Jesus makes reference to his glorification on the cross (12:32).

 

Almost at the beginning of the Gospel we are told that, “to his own he came; yet his own people did not accept him” (1:11). While receiving his mission from the Lord, prophet Isaiah was told that his words would not be accepted by the people (6:10). It so happened also with Jesus. Even those who wanted to believe in and confess Jesus did not dare it for fear of the Pharisees as the people feared men than God (vv.42-43). The word of the Lord is powerful and the human will to resist it also is powerful. Accepting the word of the Lord means a through change and costly re-orientation in one’s life; discipleship of Jesus is too costly; Jesus is not to offer us cheap grace, though of course, he is all merciful. The Great week is a challenge to everyone who takes the word of the Lord and one’s life earnestly and seriously. Life is not a mere game; it is a gift with a great task, which is living and becoming like Jesus who became human to make us divine. His way was that of obedience to the Father and carrying the cross and entering into glory in and through it; we too have no other way.

 

 

1. The Gospel According to John I-XII, New York, 1966, P. 470.

 

Father George Kaniarakath, CMI

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