“Go, cursed people, out of my sight into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt 25:41). These are the most terrible words that we find in the Gospel and are among others that fell from the lips of Jesus. Luke and Matthew remember some more: “I don’t know where you come from! Away from me, all you workers of evil”
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The great of this world—the builders of the new ‘Tower of Babel’—discard this stonebecause it does not fit their plans; it messes up their dreams, destroys their kingdoms. They tried to eliminate it, but God chose it as the rock of salvation. Whoever makes it thefoundation of his life will not be disappointed.
“I thank you, Lord, because you welcome and love me just as I am.” The terms Eucharist and charisma are well known. They are derived from the Greek‘charis,’ which means benevolence, free gift, giving joy and happiness. We feel great satisfaction when we receive a graduation diploma after so much work and sleepless nights. However, a simple flower given by a loved one at a moment in which they declare their love awakens in us immense joy.
To us today, the discourse of Jesus to Nicodemus is instead immediately clear: look to Jesus “lifted up” means “to believe in him” (v. 15), to keep your eyes fixed on the love that he has shown on Calvary. Salvation comes from faith, from adhesion to the proposal of life, which made concrete on the cross. It is the man hanging from the gallows, the one who reveals to us how much God loves us and makes us realize how far our love for people should reach.
The question that opens today’s Gospel: “How many times must I forgive the offenses of my brother or sister? Seven times?” (v. 21) reveals that Peter understood that Jesus intends to go beyond the limits set by the scribes. He certainly remembers what was said in the Sermon on the Mount: “If you are about to offer your gift at the altar, and you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother and then come back and offer your gift to God” (Mt 5:23-24)
The whole chapter from which it is taken (cf. Matthew 18) is about the rapport among the Christian community members. It addresses who should be considered the first, greatest and smallest, how to avoid scandals, what attitude to take towards anyone who turns away from the faith, how to develop love and promote harmony among the disciples, how often must one grant forgiveness.
“In the days of trouble” (Ps 77:3) we call upon the Lord because we are convinced that “he gives life and breath and everything else to everyone” (Acts 17:25). We appeal to the saints, visit shrines, kiss relics, make novenas... always to have life. The crowds sought Jesus, “they tried to dissuade him from leaving” (Lk 4:42). They touched him “because of the power that went out from him and healed them all” (Lk 6:19). They approach him for life.
Even God is ‘jealous’ because no one can be enamored of the human being more than he does. On dozens of occasions in the Old Testament, this sentiment echo: “For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God” (Ex 20:5). “I am intensely jealous for Zion” (Zec 8:2). “Then the fire of my jealous wrath will burn the wholeland” (Zep 3:8). God demands exclusive love that involves all your heart, soul, and strength (Deut 6:6); in the human heart, there should be a place only for him.
Due to the short timeframe (maybe only three years) of his public life, Jesus had limited his mission "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." However, he also gestured clearly that his salvation was for all peoples. The episode narrated in the Gospel today is one of the most significant and revealing in this regard.
During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
Jesus, when he does or says something important, goes up a mountain: The Last Temptation takes place on the Mount (Mt 4:8); the beatitudes are spoken on the Mount (Mt 5:1); he multiplied the loaves on the Mount (Mt 15:29) and, at the end of the Gospel, when the disciples encounter the risen Christ and are sent into the world, they were “on the mountain that had been indicated to them” (Mt 27:16).
Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Jesus said to his apostles: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
For the first Christians, the first day of the week was important because it was the day of the Lord (Revelations 1:10). It is that day on which the community usually reunites to break the Eucharistic bread (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). It is evening. The timeline with which the evangelical passage begins is precious. Perhaps it indicates the late hour at which the early Christians were accustomed to gathering for their celebration.
With the coming of Jesus in the glory of the Father, did anything on earth change? Outwardly, nothing. The people's lives continued to be what they were before: sowing, reaping, trading, building homes, traveling, crying and partying as usual. Even the apostles did not receive any relief from the dramas and anxieties that other people experienced. However, something incredibly new happened: a new light was projected on the existence of people.