– A Meditation on John 5:17-30

“Amen, amen, I say to you,
the Son cannot do anything on his own,
but only what he sees the Father doing;
for what he does, the Son will do also.
For the Father loves the Son
and shows him everything that he himself does.”

It is an amazing thing, dear Jesus,
that you are God, equal with the Father,
utterly sovereign and free, Lord of the world,
able to raise the dead, to give life to whom you will,
and yet this radical power and liberty
is possible only because of your utter dependency.

You reveal that you are equal with the Father,
whom you call, with joy, your Abba,
and then, so the people will not misunderstand,
you say: The Son cannot do anything…

Yes, we presume that to be Divine
is to live in a self-enclosed isolation,
a sovereignty in which there is no will but one’s own,
and the license to do, in everything, as one wants—
but you show, us, Son of God and Son of man,
that true liberty lies in dependency,
and power is born from the openness of obedience.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve,
deceived by the lies of the tempter,
presumed that God was jealous of his prerogatives,
withholding from them good things as his own,
and laying on them arbitrary burdens and commands.
Their response, therefore, in their thirst to be “divine,”
to share in the life of God, was to grasp,
to seek to possess and to control as their own.
The problem is that this is not who God is.
No, he is pure and total Self-donation
and tender receptivity to the Beloved.

You come among us, truly Divine,
and you reveal to us again, Jesus,
the face of the Father, which,
for us, has become so obscure.
“Whoever sees me sees the Father.”
And what do we see when we look at you?
We see complete openness in loving self-surrender
and the tenderness of complete, radical acceptance.

Yes, before us you are utterly vulnerable,
your Heart given to us as a gift,
and this openness is but an expression
of your even more fundamental openness
before your loving and eternal Father,
who himself is unceasingly open before you:
“All that the Father has made known to me,”
you say to us, “I have in turn made known to you.”

Yes, you reveal that the very Ground of your Being
is rooted in the bosom of the Father,
in the purity of his unceasing Gift,
the Gift which you are from him…
and in your unceasing acceptance of this Gift,
your willingness to be beloved, precious,
and to let yourself be a Gift, in return,
back into the welcoming embrace of the Father.

“For the Father loves the Son,” you cry,
“and shows himself all that he is doing!”
This is the origin of your entire life and existence,
in both time and in eternity.
And what is the Father doing?
He is but giving his very self in love for you!
And welcoming you into himself, intimately!
And so you do nothing but what he does,
your own reciprocal gift awakened by his:
you welcome his gift, and give yourself totally.

This is the very essence of the divine life,
this mutual acceptance and shared surrender
between Father and Son, in the one Spirit,
the Spirit who is the Gift of both,
the Bond of love that unites you together,
and the radiant fruit of this sacred life.

“I do nothing but what the Father shows me,”
and before he shows you anything external,
dear Jesus, he simply shows you Love,
the love of this mutual gift, this intimate abiding,
this dwelling in the joy of perfect embrace.
For what is Love but the union of Persons
who belong, freely and willingly, to one another?
This is Love, and nothing else finds any meaning
if it seeks to take its place outside of this.

And so when you become man,
when you come to us, dear Jesus,
it is simply to reveal this Love to us,
and, taking us up in your arms, in your Heart,
to carry us with you back to your loving Father,
so that, with you and in you,
we too may share in the very life of love…
truly divine through sharing in your sonship,
through living the life that God lives for all eternity.