Sunday Homily: I Have Manifested Your Name

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Rome, (Zenit.org) Fr. Jason Mitchell LC | 984 hits

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Acts 1:12-14

Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-8
1 Peter 4:13-16
John 17:1-11a

On the night of the Last Supper Jesus concludes his farewell discourse with a prayer, saying that "the hour has come". John mentions Jesus' "hour" throughout his Gospel. Jesus told Mary at the Wedding of Cana that his "hour" had not yet come (2:4). He told the Samaritan woman that the hour will come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth (4:23). After curing the paralyzed man on the Sabbath, Jesus tells the people that the hour is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live and rise to life (5:25-29). Jesus could not be arrested at the Feast of Tabernacles, because his hour had not yet come (7:30; 8:20).

Only after his entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday does Jesus say: "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified" (12:23). The path that leads to glory passes through the way of the Cross. And Jesus does not ask the Father to save him from this hour, from his redemptive passion and death. His hour is why he, the Word of God, became flesh and dwelt among men (12:27). Jesus knew that at the feast of Passover, his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father (13:1). On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus lifts his eyes to the Father in heaven at says: "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him" (17:1).

Jesus comes to give eternal life, real life, to us. He received the mission from the Father to communicate divine life to us. Pope Benedict writes that we obtain eternal life through the "recognition", granted to us by faith, that creates communion with the one recognized. God is accessible to us through the one he sent, Jesus Christ: "It is in the encounter with him that we experience the recognition of God that leads to communion and thus to 'life'" (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. II, 84). Jesus glorifies the Father by giving the gift of eternal life, the gift that begets new children who will honor God as Father (see R. Brown, John XIII-XXI, 751).

Another theme in Jesus' prayer is the manifestation of the Father's name. Here Jesus presents himself as the New Moses, "who brings to completion what began with Moses at the burning bush. God revealed his 'name' to Moses. That 'name' was more than a word. It meant that God allowed himself to be invoked, that he had entered into communion with Israel" (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. II, 90-91). The knowledge of God's name signified the covenant between God and Moses. In fact, "the renewal of the Sinai covenant took place through the proclamation of the divine name" (V. DeMeo, Covenantal Kinship in John 13-17, 406).

The name of God meant his presence among men. The Temple in Jerusalem was the place that God made his name dwell. The covenant with David promises that one of his descendants will build a house for God's name (2 Samuel 7:13). Later, the prophets foretold the day when God's people will call upon the name of God and when God will give his Servant as a covenant to the people so that his name will be manifested (Isaiah 42:8). "The prophet Jeremiah foretells that in the definitive exodus (23:8) and restoration of the Davidic kingdom (23:5), which will include the gathering together of the twelve tribes of Israel (23:6), God's name will be revealed and invoked as 'YHWH is our righteousness'. Such a definitive exodus and disclosure of his righteous name corresponds to the 'new covenant' that the prophet reveals in 31:31-36"  (V. DeMeo, Covenantal Kinship in John 13-17, 408). The invocation of God's name at the Last Supper, then, signifies the ratification or sealing of the New Covenant.

When Jesus says that he has manifested the Father's name and will manifest it further, he is revealing "a new mode of God's presence among men, a radically new way in which God makes his home with them. In Jesus, God gives himself entirely into the world of mankind: whoever sees Jesus sees the Father" (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. II, 91-92). Through our knowledge of the Father's name (John 17:6) and through asking things in Jesus' name (John 14:13), the Father and the Son are present to us.

The manifestation of the name of God seeks to transform the whole of creation, so that it may become in a completely new way God's true dwelling place in union with Christ. "In Christ, God continually approaches men, so that they in turn can approach him. To make Christ known is to make God known. Through our encounter with Christ, God approaches us, draws us into himself (cf. Jn 12:32), in order, as it were, to lead us out beyond ourselves into the infinite breadth of his greatness and his love" (Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, vol. II, 92-93).

Jesus' disciples, whom we encounter in the first reading, were those whom the Father has given to Jesus - they are the ones who have received life from our Savior. We have to die in order to receive life (John 12:24). This is why Saint Peter tells us that those who suffer as Christians should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name of Christ. We are to rejoice to the extent we share in Christ's sufferings so that when his glory is revealed we may rejoice exultantly. The eleven Apostles will suffer for Christ, knowing that their suffering in this life is brief and that the glory of heaven is eternal. They are listed by name in the first reading, indicating that God knows each one of them. And, through Jesus Christ, each of them knows the name of the Father. Through this mutual knowledge, a New Covenant has been established that is unbreakable. It is a covenant which introduces us into God's family and urges us on to make God's name known to the ends of the earth.

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Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.