The passage from St. John’s Gospel for today could be called the entr’acte. It brings the first book of the Gospel, the Book of Signs, to a close. In this short paragraph, the evangelist uses the voice of Jesus to summarize the teachings of the first twelve chapters.
As we heard in the first chapter of this Gospel and in the last chapter, John wrote his Gospel so that we could come to belief in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God. The word “believe” or “belief” is featured prominently in this Gospel; three-fourths of these references appear in the first twelve chapters. So we hear again today at the end of the twelfth chapter: “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.”
In his book, “Preaching the Gospel of John,” Lamar Williamson, Jr. makes the point that a class on the Gospel of St. John could use this passage as the starting point for an understanding of the theology of St. John’s Gospel. He says, “The theme of believing or not believing in Jesus runs like a scarlet thread throughout the Gospel.
In the first reading for today, we hear that word of God continued to spread and grow. People are coming to believe in Jesus through the missionary efforts of the apostles. For the second time in the Acts of the Apostles, men are set aside to join the Twelve in the work of spreading the Gospel. First we heard of seven men being set apart to serve the needs of the widows and orphans. Today we hear that Paul and Barnabas are being set apart to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Faith comes through hearing. The evangelists continue to remind us that people need to hear the Gospel preached both by word and deed. Jesus, the light of the world, asks us to dispel the darkness by our living the Gospel day after day. As we receive him today, we set apart ourselves for this essential task.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator