Easter, the Sixth Sunday

Proclaim a joyful sound and let it be heard; proclaim to the ends of the earth: The Lord has freed His people, alleluia. (Psalm 33: 5-6).

Grant, almighty God,
that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion
these days of joy,
which we keep in honor of the risen Lord,
and that what we relieve in remembrance
we may always hold to in what we do.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (click for full Psalm)
O God, let all the nations praise you! (Psalm 67: 4).

SCRIPTURE EXCERPT (click for all readings)
“Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make
(ποιησόμεθα, poiesometha) our dwelling (μονὴν, monen) with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.” (John 14:23-29)”

Gifts abound in this Easter Sunday Gospel proclamation: an Advocate Who will teach and remind, Peace that is different from the world’s peace, an absence of trouble and fear because the departing Jesus will return. Any one of these Gifts is cause for a lifetime of reflective gratitude expressed in living a life of loving, generous service; but all of them? Yes – and, more as well. The more is a Divine action (making) resulting in a new way of living for humanity (dwelling).

The Greek verb ποιέω (poieo), translated “make” in verse 23, has a wide variety of meanings including “to do,” “to bear,” “to give,” “to hold,” “to put,” and “to work” to name only a few – there are many more! In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures often abbreviated LXX), ποιέω (poieo) is used to translate the Hebrew verb בָּרָא (barah), “to create” which includes actions of ‘speaking’ reality into existence and ‘speaking’ a transforming word to chaos resulting in cosmos, order, harmony and beauty. “To create” would certainly be an appropriate rendering of ποιέω (poieo) in this Sunday’s proclamation given the ‘new creation’ motif woven throughout the Gospel according to Saint John. But there is another aspect of the Text that deserves attention that requires another Greek grammar lesson (ugh!).
In addition to verb forms that at time border on the incomprehensible, another challenge in learning Greek involves grammatical voice. Voice is the term used to describe the relationship of subject and verb, of doer and action. In English, voice is either active or passive. But Greek has another voice that English does not have: the middle voice. Put simply, the middle voice expresses a subject doing a particular action AND a further relationship between subject and action wherein the subject ‘continues’ the action as opposed to an action that is done and over with, a ‘one shot deal.’ The use of the middle voice indicates that the ‘subject’ is not leaving and the work the subject is doing will not be finished anytime soon.
Thus the “dwelling (μονὴν, monen)” that God the Father and Jesus ‘will create’ is forever an active, energizing ‘work in progress.’ μονή (mone), translated here as “dwelling,” expresses a particular place used as one’s residence, a place to stay. As a noun, μονή (mone) is related grammatically to the Greek verb μένω (meno, “to stay”), a verb that has deep meaning in the Johannine Text. For the Evangelist, μονή (mone) is not simply a convenient place to live. Both μονή (mone) and μένω (meno) often indicate the realm of Divine living that – in the case of Jesus and His re-creative work – extends an invitation to humanity. Yet what is so notable is that humanity does not go to the Divine abode, the Divine comes to humanity … AND remains creating an ever richer dwelling place within the lives of all who keep Jesus’ life-giving and life-changing word.