5th Sunday of Easter (C)
///John 13:31-35 Commentary – Love One Another – 5th Sunday of Easter
///John 13:31-35 Commentary – Love One Another – 5th Sunday of Easter
Son of Man Glorified
Love One Another
Homilies | John 13:31-35
Gospel commentary excerpts from a variety of sources.
Click on links to view original source material.
Click on chevron banner to open/close content
Jesus’ Farewell Discourses
SERMON WRITER – John 13:31 – 16:33 is a series of discourses (speeches) by Jesus, which together are commonly thought of as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. This is followed by Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (17:1-26). The farewell address is a common literary form found in both testaments (Genesis 49; Deuteronomy 33; 1 Chronicles 28-29; Joshua 23:24; Acts 20; 2 Peter). The typical farewell address is given by a person facing death, and includes blessings, exhortations, and the naming of a successor.
Judas’ Departure (v 31a)
When Judas had gone out
SERMON WRITER – Earlier, preparing to identify Judas, “Jesus was troubled in spirit” (13:21), but he does not allow that mood to set the tone for the evening. It is as if, when Judas departs, a pall lifts. Judas’ departure rids the group of his evil presence and sets in motion the events that lead to Jesus’ glorification.
Glorification (vv. 31b-32)
Now is the Son of Man glorified…
Daniel’s vision of the Son of Man
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – In verse 31, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man;” it is His favorite title for Himself that not only identifies His humanity but refers to the Prophet Daniel’s vision of “One like a Son of Man” coming on the clouds of heaven (Dan 7:13). In that vision, the 6th century BC prophet Daniel sees a Divine Messiah who looks like a man ascending in the Glory Cloud (Ex 13:21-22; 40:38) to the Father in Heaven. From God the Almighty, Daniel saw Him received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:13-14; also see Daniel’s prophecy of a future eternal kingdom in Dan 2:44 and Jeremiah’s prophecy of an eternal covenant in Jer 32:40; 50:5).
SERMON WRITER – The title, Son of Man, has the advantage of having none of the militaristic connotations associated with the title, Messiah. People expect the Messiah to raise an army, to drive out the Romans, and to re-establish the great Davidic kingdom. They have no such expectations regarding the Son of Man.
The word “glory”
SERMON WRITER – Jesus focuses on glorification, his own and God’s. The word “glory” is used in the Bible to speak of various wonderful things—but it is used especially to speak of God’s glory—an aura associated with God’s appearance that reveals God’s majesty to humans.
Shift between past and future tenses
SERMON WRITER – In this Gospel, Jesus’ glorification is his death, resurrection, and ascension. Just as God’s glory was revealed at Sinai (Exodus 24:16-17), so also it will be revealed at the cross and open tomb.
While Jesus’ glorification will take place in his death, resurrection, and ascension, he speaks of it as both past and future.
- The past tense, “has been glorified,” reflects his decision, already made, to be obedient even to death on a cross.
- The future tense, “will also glorify,” anticipates his retaking his rightful place with the Father through his resurrection and ascension.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – Why does Jesus use both the past and future tense when speaking of His glorification?
- Perhaps the past tense refers to the whole of His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension that takes place in “the hour” of God’s Divine Plan. It is a path He has already begun to walk in the Upper Room as He held Himself in His own hands in the giving of His Eucharistic Body and Blood.
- While the future tense in verse 32 refers to the glory that will follow when the Son of God returns to the Father’s presence and takes His throne on the right side of the Father to serve as not only as King but as High Priest and unblemished “Lamb Standing” (Arnion Hestekos) of sacrifice in the heavenly Sanctuary (Heb 8:1-3; Rev 5:5-14). It is the repeated theme of glory that gives this second half of John’s Gospel the title “The Book of Glory” (Fr. Raymond Brown, The Gospel of John, page 610).
Number of times John refer’s to Christ’s glory
Notice how many times John refers to Christ’s glory in John 13:31-32: Jesus said, “Now has the Son of God been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once (literal Greek translation, underlining added). The passage mentions Christ’s glory five times. In the symbolic significance of numbers in Scripture, five is the number of grace and power.
Jesus’ suffering and death
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – St. John’s interpretation of Jesus’ glorification relates to and cannot be separated from His suffering and death as foreshadowed in the quotations from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah in John 12:38, 40. The prophet Isaiah wrote:
Although he had performed so many signs in their presence they did not believe in him, in order that the word which Isaiah the prophet spoke might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed our preaching, to whom has the might of the Lord been revealed?”
For this reason, they could not believe, because again Isaiah said:
“He blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not see with their eyes and understand with their heart and be converted, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him (Jn 12:37-41, quoting Is 53:1;6:10).
A New Commandment (v. 34a)
Love one another
SERMON WRITER – “New commandment” in the Latin Vulgate is mandatum novum, which is where we get the phrase Maundy Thursday (Bruce, 294).
The Greek word “agape”
FR. VINCENT HAWKSWELL = Here, in the Greek, the verb “love” is agapate; the noun is agape. We used to translate agape as “charity,” but “charity” has dwindled to “almsgiving.” Now we translate agape as “love,” but “love” can also mean the natural loves: affection, friendship, and eros (sexual love). Agape is “the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbour as ourselves for the love of God,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The double love command found in the Torah
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – This commandment is the heart and soul of Jesus’ message and grounded in the double love-command found in the Torah in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.
- The first part of the love command is also the opening line of what is known as the “Shema,” the covenant people’s oldest profession of faith. It begins: you must love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your souls, and with all your strength (Dt 6:5 NJB).
- The second part of the love command is in Leviticus 19:18, You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbor as yourself.
What is New in Jesus’ Commandment
SERMON WRITER – What, then, is new about Jesus’ commandment? The new commandment…
- provides a clear model of the love that [Jesus] requires: “just like I have loved you, you also love one another” (v. 34b). If we want to understand Christian love, we have only to look at Jesus’ life and actions. The foot-washing in which he so recently engaged (13:1-20) sets the tone for the humble service that Jesus expects his disciples to render to each other.
- focuses on the Christian community—we are to love Christian brothers and sisters. In the Synoptics, Jesus calls us to love neighbors and enemies (Matthew 5:44; 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 6:27, 35)—and God loves the world (John 3:16)—but Jesus’ call in this verse is for his disciples to love one another.
- inaugurates a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The mark of faithfulness to the old covenant was obedience to the Torah. The mark of faithfulness to the new covenant is love for those within the community of faith (see Brown, 613-614; also Krentz and Vogel, 42).
- is positive and open-ended. Rather than focusing on “Thou shalt not,” it says, “thou shalt” (Gossip, 693). Where many Old Testament laws were very specific, this law is very broad. We can never claim full compliance, because there is no end to the requirement. When have we loved enough? There is always need for more love. People could respond to the old law with a bookkeeper’s mindset. Not so with this new commandment!
The Disciples’ Witness (v. 35)
This is how all will know that you are my disciples
The mark of a disciple
FR. RICHARD LONSDALE – Many people can be known by the uniforms they wear: Police, Nurses, Soldiers, Priests. This grants them instant recognition, protection and willingness to serve. Jesus teaches that all of his followers must wear a uniform that is just as visible. It is not made of cloth or brass. It is a uniform of love. We must be patient, merciful and tolerant, but not aggressive, opportunistic, or over-bearing. People should be able to look at our concern for others and willingness to sacrifice ourselves and say “THAT MUST BE A CHRISTIAN, I CAN TELL.” Other people can exercise all these qualities–and should–but our compassion has to be OUTSTANDING!
Clipart by Fr. Richard Lonsdale © 2000. Click image to view more clipart for this Sunday.
SERMON WRITER – Christian witness can take many forms, from street preaching to solemn liturgy, but it always involves love. The church grew rapidly after the resurrection, in part because of the powerful witness of Christian love. “See how they love one another,” the pagans said (Tertullian, Apology). It is difficult not to respond to the witness of a loving person.
Ignoring this new commandment is not an option. Paul warns,
“If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don’t have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal,… If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don’t have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
The self-sacrificial love of Christ
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – It is this unique willingness to submit oneself to the self-sacrificial love of Christ living in His disciples that will distinguish New Covenant believers. It is the love that circumcises hearts and the love God promised those who belong to Him of which circumcised flesh was only a sign of a desired interior condition made possible through the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit. It refers back to God’s promise in the Book of Deuteronomy: Yahweh, your God, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love Yahweh your God with all your heart and soul, and so will live (Dt 30:6 NJB). Jesus’ “new commandment” defines our relationship to the Most Holy Trinity, He who is the fullness of love. St. John the Apostle understood that unique love and wrote of it in his letters to the Church:
- My dear friends let us love each other, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love (1 Jn 4:7-8).
- I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but only the one which we have had from the beginning: that we should love each other. To love is to live according to his commandments: this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of love (2 Jn 5-6; also 1 Jn 3:23-24).
Are you living that unique and powerful love in your life and in your relationship with others? It is a love that has changed the world and offered hope to every generation since Christ’s Ascension to the Father and will continue to provide hope until His return in Glory.
CROSS REFERENCES SOURCE: B. Blayney, Thomas Scott, and R.A. Torrey with John Canne, Browne, The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, vol. 2 (London: Samuel Bagster and Sons, n.d.).
31. Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
32. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
ORIGEN. (t. xxxii. 17.) After the glory of His miracles, and His transfiguration, the next glorifying of the Son of man began, when Judas went out with Satan, who had entered into him; Therefore when he was gone out, Jems said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. For it is not the eternal only-begotten Word, but the glory of the Man born of the seed of David, which is here meant. Christ at His death, in which He glorified God, having spoiled principalities and powers, made a shew of them, openly triumphing over them. (Colos. 2:15) And again, Made peace by the blood of His cross, to reconcile all things unto Himself, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (Colos. 1:20) Thus the Son of man was glorified, and God glorified in Him; for Christ cannot be glorified, except the Father be glorified with Him. But whoever is glorified, is glorified by some one. By whom then is the Son of man glorified? He tells you; If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glorify Him.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxii. 2.) i. e. by Himself, not by any other. And shall straightway glorify Him, i. e. not at any distant time, but immediately, while He is yet on the very cross shall His glory appear. For the sun was darkened, rocks were rent, and many bodies of those that slept arose. In this way He restores the drooping spirits of His disciples, and persuades them, instead of sorrowing, to rejoice.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lxiii. 2) Or thus: The unclean went out: the clean remained with their cleanser. Thus will it be when the tares are separated from the wheat; The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. (Matt. 13:43) Our Lord, foreseeing this, said, when Judas went out, as if the tares were now separated, and He left alone with the wheat, the holy Apostles, Now is the Son of man glorified; as if to say, Behold what will take place at My glorifying, at winch none of the wicked shall be present, none of the righteous shall perish. He does not say, Now is the glorifying of the Son of man signified; but, Now is the Son of man glorified; as it is not that rock signified Christ, but, That Rock was Christ. (1 Cor. 10:4) Scripture often speaks of the things signifying, as if they were the things signified. (c. 3). But the glorifying of the Son of man, is the glorifying of God in Him; as He adds, And God is glorified in Him, which He proceeds to explain; If God is glorified in Him—for He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him—God shall also glorify Him in Himself, so that the human nature which was assumed by the eternal Word, shall also be endowed with eternity. And shall straightway glorify Him. He predicts His own resurrection, which was to follow immediately, not at the end of the world, like ours. Thus it is; Now is the Son of man glorified; the now referring not to His approaching Passion, but the resurrection which was immediately to follow it: as if that which was so very soon to be, had already taken place.
HILARY. (xi. de. Trin. c. 42) That God is glorified in Him, refers to the glory of the body, which glory is the glory of God, in that the body borrows its glory from its association with the Divine nature. Because God is glorified in Him, therefore He will glorify Him in Himself, in that He who reigns in the glory arising from the glory of God, He forthwith passes over into God’s glorya, leaving the dispensation of His manhood, wholly to abide in God. Nor is He silent as to the time: And shall straightway glorify Him. This referring to the glory of His resurrection which was immediately to follow His passion, which He mentions as present, because Judas had now gone out to betray Him; whereas that God would glorify Him in Himself, He reserves for the future. The glory of God was shewn in Him by the miracle of the resurrection; but He will abide in the glory of God when He has left the dispensation of subjection. The sense of these first words, Now is the Son of man glorified, is not doubtful: it is the glory of the flesh which is meant, not that of the Word. But what means the next, And God is glorified in Him? The Son of man is not another Person from the Son of God, for, the Word was made flesh. (John 1:14) How is God glorified in this Son of man, who is the Son of God? The next clause helps us; If God is glorified in Him, God also will glorify Him in Himself. A man is not glorified in himself, nor, on the other hand, does God who is glorified in man, because He receives glory, cease to be God. So the words, God is glorified in Him, either mean that Christ is glorified in the flesh, or that God is glorified in Christ. If God means Christ, it is Christ who is glorified in the flesh; if the Father, then it is the Sacrament of unity, the Father glorified in the Son. Again, God glorifies in Himself God glorified in the Son of man. This overthrows the impious doctrine that Christ is not very God, in verity of nature. For how can that which God glorifies in Himself be out of Himself? He whom the Father glorifies must be confessed to be in His glory, and He who is glorified in the glory of the Father, must be understood to be in the same case with the Father.
ORIGEN. (t. xxxii. 17.) Or thus: The word glory is here used in a different sense from that which some Pagans attach to it, who defined glory to be the collected praises of the many. It is evident that glory in such a sense is a different thing from that mentioned in Exodus, where it is said, that the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle, (Exod. 40:34) and that the face of Moses was glorified. The glory here mentioned is something visible, a certain divine appearance in the temple, and on Moses’ face; but in a higher and more spiritual sense we are glorified, when with the eye of the understanding we penetrate into the things of God. For the mind when it ascends above material things, and spiritually sees God, is deified: and of this spiritual glory, the visible glory on the face of Moses is a figure: for his mind it was that was deified by converse with God. But there is no comparison between the excellent glory of Christ, and the knowledge of Moses, whereby the face of his soul was glorified: for the whole of the Father’s glory shines upon the Son, who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person. (Heb. 1:3) (c. 18.). Yea, and from the light of this whole glory there go forth particular glories, throughout the whole rational creation: though none can take in the whole of the divine glory, except the Son. But so far as the Son was known to the world, so far only was He glorified. And as yet He was not fully known. But afterward the Father spread the knowledge of Him over the whole world, and then was the Son of man glorified in those who knew Him. And of this glory He hath made all who know Him partakers: as saith the Apostle; We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, (2 Cor. 3:18) i. e. from His glory receive glory. When He was approaching then that dispensation, by which He was to become known to the world, and to be glorified in the glory of those who glorified Him, He says, Now is the Son of man glorified. (Matt. 11:27) And because no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him, and the Son by the dispensation (ἐκ τῆς οἰκονομίας) was about to reveal the Father; for this reason He saith, And God is glorified in Him. Or compare this with the text below: He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father. (c. 14:9) The Father who begat the Word is seen in the Word, who is God, and the image of the invisible God. But the words may be taken in a larger sense. For as through some the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles, so through the saints whose good deeds are seen and acknowledged by the world, the name of the Father in heaven is magnified. But in whom was He so glorified as in Jesus, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth? Such being the Son, He is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. And if God is glorified in Him, the Father returns Him more than He gave. For the glory of the Son of man, when the Father glorifies Him, far exceeds the Father’s glory, when He is glorified in the Son: it being fit that the greater should return the greater glory. And as this, viz. the glorifying of the Son of man, was just about to be accomplished, our Lord adds, And will straightway glorify Him.
33. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
34. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
AUGUSTINE. After He had said, And shall straightway glorify Him, that they might not think that God was going to glorify Him in such a way, as that He would no longer have any converse with them on earth, He says, Little children, yet a little while I am with you: as if He said, I shall indeed straightway be glorified by My resurrection, but I shall not straightway ascend to heaven. For we read in the Acts of the Apostles, that He was with them forty days after His resurrection. These forty days are what He means by, A little while I am with you.
ORIGEN. (t. xxxii. 19.) Little children, He says; for their souls were yet in infancy. But these little children, after His death, were made brethren; as before they were little children, they were servants.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lxiv. 1) It may be understood too thus: I am as yet in this frail flesh, even as ye are, until I die and rise again. He was with them after His resurrection, by bodily presence, not by participation of human frailty. These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, (Luke 24:44) He says to His disciples after His resurrection; meaning, while I was in mortal flesh, as ye are. He was in the same flesh then with them, but not subject to the same mortality. But there is another Divine Presence unknown to mortal senses, of which He saith, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. (Mat. 28:20) This is not the presence meant by, A little while I am with you; for it is not a little while to the end of the world: or even if it is a little while, because that in the eye of God, a thousand years are as one day, yet what follows shews that it is not what our Lord is here alluding to; for He adds, Whither I go ye cannot follow Me now. At the end of the world they were to follow Him, whither He went; as He saith below; Father, I will that they be with Me, where I am. (c. 17:24)
ORIGEN. (t. xxxii. 19.) But may there not be a deeper meaning in the words, yet a little while &c. After a little while He was not with them. In what sense not with them? Not because He was not with them according to the flesh, in that He was taken from them, was brought before Pilate, was crucified, descended into hell: but because they all forsook Him, fulfilling His prophecy: All ye shall be offended because of Me this night. He was not with them, because He only dwells with those who are worthy of Him. But though they thus wandered from Jesus for a little while, it was only for a little while; they soon sought Him again. Peter wept bitterly after his denial of Jesus, and by his tears sought Him: and therefore it follows, Ye shall seek Me, and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot follow Me now. To seek Jesus, is to seek the Word, wisdom, righteousness, truth, all which is Christ. To His disciples therefore who wish to follow Him, not in a bodily sense, as the ignorant think, but in the way He ordains, Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. Our Lord saith, Whither I go ye cannot follow Me now. For though they wished to follow the Word, and to confess Him, they were not yet strong enough to do so; The Spirit was not yet given to them, because that Jesus was not yet glorified. (supra c. 7)
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lxiv. 4) Or He means that they were not yet fit to follow Him to death for righteousness’ sake. For how could they, when they were not ripe for martyrdom? Or how could they follow our Lord to immortality, they who were to die, and not to rise again till the end of the world? Or how could they follow Him to the bosom of the Father, when none could partake of that felicity, but they whose love was perfected? When He told the Jews this, He did not add now. But the disciples, though they could not follow Him then, would be able to do so afterwards, and therefore He addsc, So now I say to you.
ORIGEN. (t. xxxii. 19.) As if He said, I say it to you, but with the addition of now. The Jews, who He foresaw would die in their sins, would never be able to follow Him; but the disciples were unable only for a little time.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxii. 3) And therefore He said, little children; for He did not mean to speak to them, as He had to the Jews. Ye cannot follow Me now, He says, in order to rouse the love of His disciples. For the departure of loved friends kindles all our affection, and especially if they are going to a place where we cannot follow them. He purposely too speaks of His death, as a kind of translation, a happy removal to a place, where mortal bodies do not enter.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lxv. 1) And now He teaches them how to fit themselves to follow Him: A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another. (Levit. 19:18) But does not the old law say, Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself? Why then does He call it a new commandment? Is it because it strips us of the old man, and puts on us the new? That it renews the hearer, or rather the doer of it? Love does do this; but it is that love which our Lord distinguishes from the carnal affection: As I have loved you, that ye also love one another. Not the love with which men love one another, but that of the children of the Most High God, who would be brethren of His only-begotten Son, and therefore love one another with that love with which He loved them, and would lead them to the fulfilment of their desires.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxii. 3) Or, as I have loved you: for My love has not been the payment of something owing to you, but had its beginning on My side. And ye ought in like manner to do one another good, though ye may not owe it.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lxiv. 2) But do not think that that greater commandment, viz. that we should love the Lord our God, is passed by. For, if we understand the two precepts aright, each is implied in the other. He who loves God cannot despise His commandment that he should love his neighbour; and he who loves his neighbour in a heavenly spiritual way, in the neighbour loves God. That is the love which our Lord distinguishes from all human love, when He adds, As I have loved you. For what did He, in loving us, love, but God in us; not who was in us, but so that He might be? Wherefore let each of us so love the other, as that by this working of love, we make each other the habitations of God.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxii. 4) Passing over the miracles, which they were to perform, He makes love the distinguishing mark of His followers; By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another. This it is that evidences the saint or the disciple, as He calls him.
AUGUSTINE. (Tr. lxv. 3) if He said, Other gifts are shared with you by those who are not mine; birth, life, sense, reason, and such good things as belong alike to man and brutes; nay, and tongues, sacraments, prophecy, knowledge, faith, bestowing of goods upon the poor, giving the body to be burned: but forasmuch as they have not charity, they are tinkling cymbals, they are nothing: nothing profits them.
SOURCE: ECATHOLIC 2000 Commentary in public domain.