The Testimony
  • Sunday, May 20, 2012

Easter 7
Acts 1:15-17, 21-26 • Ps. 1
John 5:9-13 • John 17:6-19

The addition of Matthias to the remaining eleven following Judas’s betrayal of Jesus underscores the providential necessity of restoring the number twelve to the flock of the elect. The twelve tribes and their hopes are fulfilled in the appointment of the twelve disciples. Although the selection occurred by lot, requirements were considered. The new apostle was to come “from those men who were gathered together during the entire time that Jesus went in and out among them, beginning from the baptism of John to the day he was taken up, to become a witness to the resurrection with us” (Acts 1:22). Shortly thereafter, sound, wind, and flame fill the air (Acts 2). The twelve, symbolizing a totality, are ignited with a divine dialect for the world. Their words hook hearts, immediately.

Preaching, they announce “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God” (Acts 2:22). They attest as God has attested. What is the testimony of God? “This is the testimony of God; he has testified concerning his Son” (1 John 5:9). Please, some simple clarity! What is God saying? “The one who believes in the Son has the testimony within himself” (1 John 5:10). Is the testimony then whatever thoughts currently occupy the unstable house of the mind? I have my testimony and you have yours. I have my God, my private word, my singular truth. But the testimony which awakens in me has the surprising quality of concordance with the voice in you. We hear together: “This is the testimony; God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). This is verified by mutual confession in the holy Church. All speak with one voice, saying: “We have eternal life (now) in the Son” (1 John 5:13).

The Gospel speaks of “your name,” “your word,” and “your words.” Jesus says that he has “manifested your name to the people.” The “name” of the Father, though hidden, identifies the deepest possible communion between the Father and Son. The Father has given his name to the Son, who then in turn gives the name to the people (John 17:11). Recalling that the name of God is a profound sacred mystery guarded with silence, the giving of the name implies giving what is deepest and dearest and most desirous. The “name” approximates the being of God, Qui est.

The mystery is given, however, in two distinctive forms, approachable to mere mortals. The name comes as the logos, the word. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. The people are said “to preserve your word” (John 17:6). Against the backdrop of St. John’s symbolic world, Jesus is this Word. As the Word, Jesus makes the Father known (John 1:18). Speaking of the Father, the Son uses words, but only those which he receives from the Father (John 17:8). Having preserved the Word, and having accepted the words which the Son receives from the Father, the disciples, at Jesus’ praying plea, are safe in your name. Sharing in the holy name, the disciples are called to be one just as the Father and Son are one. It is precisely this oneness, this catholic wholeness, this mutual life, which is “my joy fulfilled in them” (John 17:13).

Look It Up
Read Psalm 1. Blessed is the one who takes long walks in the company of the Word.

Think About It
St. John does not want us to wait for eternal life. Eternal life is in the Son, and the Son is where we are.

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