Reflection on John 15.18-21 (Easter 5: Saturday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 5: Saturday, 13 May 2023, on John 15.18-21

John 15.18-21

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world – therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.’


Jesus said to his disciples …

Today’s reading opens, as do so many of our readings, with the words: Jesus said to his disciples. As Jesus began his earthly ministry, he chose and called twelve men to walk alongside him, and to form the foundation of what was to become his Church. Those men came from a variety of ordinary backgrounds. They did not go through a rigorous period of discernment, selection and training. The one quality they all had in common was their immediate response to Jesus’ simple call: Follow me.

As Jesus’ ministry progressed, those twelve men journeyed with him, witnessing his teaching and preaching, his healing and his miraculous signs. They were also privy to many times of intimate conversation. As in today’s reading, Jesus often spoke only to his disciples and not to the crowds. The twelve disciples (followers) became equipped through Jesus’ words and actions to take on the mantle of apostleship. Every time we read the words: Jesus said to his disciples, we are witnessing another building block being carefully placed in the future of Christ’s mission on earth. When we hear those words we also need to remember that Jesus is speaking to us.

Just as he said two thousand years ago, Jesus is still saying: Follow me. He is still calling people into a life of discipleship … and apostleship. Jesus knows us all intimately, and Jesus knows the extent of our God-given gifts and talents. It is for us to decide how we respond to his call in our lives. Jesus does not call us to do anything that is beyond our capabilities, even if we do not fully understand those capabilities. But, he does call us, each and every one of us. 

Today’s reading begins with familiar words: Jesus said to his disciples. Jesus is also speaking to us. These words do not provide us with an excuse to abdicate our responsibility to spread his light and his love through our words and actions, because they are not merely a linguistic formula used to report some ancient phrases and sayings. These words are a dynamic wake-up call to the world we inhabit in the twenty-first century.

Today we are challenged to gather with the first disciples and listen to the words Jesus speaks to us. We are challenged to set self to one side and follow Jesus. We are challenged to play our part in building up God’s Kingdom on earth. We are challenged to step out as faithful and joyous disciples and apostles of Christ.