Iconography of St John leaning on Jesus breast during the last supper
THE BELOVED DISCIPLE
- Document: Holy Scripture Readings
1.1. First Reading: The Book of Deuteronomy 4: 1,5-9
1.2. Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Matthew 5: 17-19
1.3. Simple Comment: Moses points two distinguishing elements that make Israel God’s Chosen people: Yahweh’s unparalleled closeness to them, and the wisdom of the Law He gave them. Jesus in the Gospel affirms this wisdom and justice of God’s commandments by his perfect compliance and fulfillment of them. In fact, he states that greatness in God’s kingdom is measured by obedience to these commands and the consequent good example one sets towards others in doing the same.
- Monument: The Beloved Disciple in the Cenacle and on Golgotha
2.1. A characteristic and unique element in the Gospel of St John is the mention of the beloved disciple or, more properly, the Disciple whom Jesus loved. The evangelist makes a scornful silence about the real name of this person. He is a companion of Jesus and, according to the evangelist, he is to be regarded as the greatest of Jesus’ disciples, the one who came to understand Jesus best. So far as the evangelist was concerned, the Beloved Disciple’s name was not necessary knowledge for us; Jesus the Good Shepherd anyway knows all his own by name, and that is all that matters.
2.2. During the Last Supper, the disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; he leaned back close to Jesus’ chest to know who the betrayer Jesus was talking about. The next place he is found was beneath the cross on Golgotha beside the mother of Jesus; to him was entrusted Jesus’ mother as he was likewise entrusted to her. That same hour the beloved disciple took her into his home. This disciple figured out lastly in the appearance of the Risen Jesus to Simon Peter by the Sea of Tiberias. It was he who recognized Jesus as the man standing by the shore; it was about him Peter asked Jesus whether he would remain behind or not. In the same breath, the evangelist indicates that it was this disciple who vouches for this Good News and whose testimony is acclaimed to be true.
- Lenten Reflection
3.1. The closeness of Yahweh to his people can now be exemplified by Jesus’ closeness to the beloved disciple – a unique relationship which bears fruit in intimate knowledge of each other. Similarly, Jesus’ compliance and fulfillment of his Father’s will is also signified in the beloved disciple’s fidelity in standing by the cross of Jesus and accepting Jesus’ command to take his mother to be his own.
3.2. In not naming who this beloved disciple is makes us realize that it could be anyone of his disciples or, better still, today we may consider him to be anyone of us who possesses and fosters an intimate relationship with Jesus the Master. The important thing is that Jesus the Good Shepherd knows our deepest intentions and innermost struggles to abide by his commands specially in loving one another as He has loved us. He promised during the Last Supper that if we do so, then he would abide in us and we in him.
- Contemporary Filipino Question: Palangga is an oft-repeated favorite title of lovers to each other. It is an Ilonggo term of endearment – a sweet sounding word that evokes feelings of intimacy, graciousness, kindness, condescension, generosity and love. We are told that unlike titles of majesty and honor which western Christian traditions have accorded the Blessed Virgin (Notre Dame, Nuestra Senora, Our Lady), the Filipino calls the Mother of God by a uniquely filial term of endearment: Mahal na Birhen. We similarly treat our Santo Nino devotion with the same alaga-palangga. What great faith, what steadfast hope and what magnanimous charity we would possess if we are convinced we are indeed God’s Beloved and at the same time we treat our neighbor as His beloved.