It is so easy to quote a line from Sacred Scripture. I have come across many who would quote a verse here and there to justify their position or support their argument. As the saying goes, “even the devil quotes Sacred Scriptures’!
The Catechism of the Catholic Church sets out the criteria for Biblical Interpretation, and the first criterion is (paragraph 112) is:
“Be especially attentive “to the content and unity of the whole Scripture”. Different as the books which compose it may be, Scripture is a unity by reason of the unity of God’s plan, of which Christ Jesus is the center and heart, open since his Passover.”
This criterion is so important because quoting a verse from the Bible is so easy to do, and sometimes things can be taken out of context. In our liturgical celebrations, we always read only a short passages from parts of the Bible, and therefore it comes with this inherent danger. We must always remember to read them in the context of a wider scene, and even the whole Bible. Knowing the context gives us a better sense of the richness of the message the words are meant to impart. This Sunday’s Gospel poses one such challenge. The words spoken by Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel is in the context of being part of the commentary on the gesture of washing the disciples’ feet just before the Institution of the Eucharist. If we turn our memory back to Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and then read the this Sunday passage, we get a better sense of it. In instituting the Mass, Jesus reminds all of us, and especially priests, that by coming to the table of the Eucharist, we are all called to serve others.
Today’s Gospel passage highlights an important between the gesture of feet washing (“I have come to serve, and not to be served”) and the Eucharist (“….love one another, as I have loved you”). The commandment to love is expressed also in serving each other.
As we come before at the altar let us also make that pledge to try and live His commandment, and through that may everyone know that we are His disciples.