Focolare Word of Life - May 2020

“You have already been cleansed by the word I have spoken to you.” (Jn 15:3)

After the Last Supper with the Apostles, Jesus left the Upper Room and walked towards the Mount of Olives. Eleven Apostles were with him: Judas Iscariot had already left and was soon to betray Jesus.

It was a solemn and dramatic moment. During the supper, Jesus had given a long farewell speech. He wanted to say important things to his closest followers and deliver words that were not to be forgotten.

His Apostles were Jews who knew the Scriptures, and Jesus reminded them of the very familiar image of the vine. In the sacred texts, this represents the Jewish people, who were the object of God’s care.

God, in fact, is an attentive and expert vine grower. Now it is Jesus who speaks of himself as the vine that transmits the lifeblood of the Father’s love to his disciples. They must, therefore, focus above all on remaining united to him.

“You have already been cleansed by the word I have spoken to you.”

One way to remain united to Jesus is to welcome his word. It allows God to enter into our hearts and make them “pure,” that is, cleansed of selfishness, fit to produce an abundance of quality fruit.

The Father loves us and knows better than we do what allows us to feel unburdened and free. Free from the useless weight of all the unnecessary things to which we are attached, negative judgements, the anxious search to have everything work to our advantage, and the illusion of keeping everything and everyone under control.

In our hearts there are also positive aspirations and ventures, but these too could take the place of God himself and make us lose the generous momentum of evangelical life. That is why he sometimes intervenes in our life through circumstances and painful experiences, behind which there is always his watchful love.

The fullness of joy is the fruit that the Gospel promises to those who allow themselves to be pruned and renewed by God’s love (Jn 15:11). This is a special joy that blossoms even in the midst of tears and overflows from the heart, flooding the surrounding soil. It is like a small preview of resurrection.

“You have already been cleansed by the word I have spoken to you.”

Living the Word makes us step outside ourselves and meet our brothers and sisters with love, beginning with those nearest to us: in our families, cities and every area of life. It enables us to create friendships that form a network of positive relationships, aiming at the fulfilment of the commandment of mutual love, which builds fraternity.

Meditating on this phrase from John’s Gospel, Focolare founder Chiara Lubich wrote in a commentary from May 1982: “How can we live so that we too can deserve Jesus’ praise? We can put every Word of God into practice and be nourished by it moment by moment, thus making our existence a work of continuous re-evangelization.

“Doing this, we will have the same thoughts and feelings as Jesus. We will relive him in the world and show the divine purity and transparency that the Gospel gives to a society that is often caught up in evil and sin.

“During this month, then, if possible (that is, if other people share our intentions), let us try, in a particular way, to put into practice that word which expresses the commandment of mutual love. For John the Evangelist... there is a link between the Word of Christ and the new Commandment.

“According to him, it is in mutual love that we live the Word with its many effects — purification, holiness, innocence, fruitfulness and closeness to God. If we live in isolation from one another, we cannot resist the pressures of the world for long, while in mutual love we find an environment capable of protecting an authentic Christian life.”

- Letizia Magri


Read more on this topic:

  • Lubich, Chiara, “He gives us strength to face the difficulties of each day,” Jesus in our Midst, New City Press: 2019, pp. 51–53.
  • Lubich, Chiara, “Love and Joy,” Journey to Heaven, New City Press: 1997, pp. 67–68.

Next month: “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.” (Mt. 10:40)

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