Friday, March 23, 2018
Season of Lent
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
You are a loyal God,
ever faithful to Your promises. Strengthen our faith,
that with Jesus we may always keep trusting in You
in spite of prejudices, ridicule or contradiction.
Give us the firm conviction
that You are irrevocably committed to us
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 10:31-42
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, 'You are gods"'? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, "John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true." And many there began to believe in him.
• We are close to Holy Week, during which we commemorate the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Beginning with the fourth week of Lent, the texts of the Gospel of every day are texts taken almost exclusively from the Gospel of John, two chapters which stress the dramatic tension between the progressive revelation, on the one side, which Jesus makes of the mystery of the Father which fills Him completely, and on the other side, the progressive closing up of the Jews who always become more impenetrable to the message of Jesus. The tragic aspect of this closing up is that they claim it is in fidelity to God. They refuse Jesus in the name of God.
• This way in which John presents the conflict between Jesus and the religious authority is not only something which has taken place in the far past. It is also a mirror which reflects what happens today. In the name of God, some persons transform themselves into bombs and kill other persons. In the name of God, we, members of the three religions of the God of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims, have fought among ourselves throughout history. Ecumenism is difficult and at the same time, necessary. In the name of God, many horrible things have been committed and as a world, we continue to commit them every day. Lent is an important period of time to stop and to ask ourselves: What is the image of God that I have within me?
• John 10:31-33: The Jews want to stone Jesus. The Jews prepare stone to kill Jesus and Jesus asks: “I have shown you many good works from My Father, for which of these are you stoning me?” The answer: “We are stoning you, not for doing a good work, but for blasphemy; though you are only man, you claim to be God”. They want to kill Jesus because He blasphemes. The law ordered that such persons should be stoned.
• John 10:34-36: The Bible calls all sons of God. They want to kill Jesus because He says He is God. Jesus responds in the name of the law of God itself. “Is it not perhaps written in your Law: I said you are gods? Now, if the Law has called gods those to whom the Word of God was addressed (and Scripture cannot be set aside), to those whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world, and you say: You blaspheme, because I have said: I am the Son of God?”
• Strangely, Jesus says “your law”. He could have said: “our Law”. Why does He speak in this way? The Jews understood the Law as applying the term “gods” to those who were the recipients of God’s Word. There are three ways it could be phrased: 1) the Law, 2) our Law, or 3) your Law. The rabbinic interpretation precludes number 1, as it would only be applied to true Israelites. The second way would indicate a common theological understanding of the Law. His entire ministry had shown their misunderstanding of the Law, so this would not be consistent. So, in option 3, we see He not only is using the Law to explain, but also to emphasize “their” interpretations of the Law versus what He has taught. In other words it could be said: “according to the Law as you have made it out to be”.
• John 10:37-38: At least believe in the works. Jesus again speaks of the works that He does and which are the revelation of the Father. If I do not do the works of the Father, there is no need to believe in me. But if I do them, even if you do not believe in me, at least believe in the works I do, so that you will believe that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. These are the same words that He said at the Last Supper (Jn 14:10-11).
• John 10:39-42: Once again they want to kill Him, but He flees from their clutches. There was no sign of conversion. They continue to say that Jesus blasphemes and insist in killing Him. There is no future for Jesus. His death has been decided, but as yet His hour has not arrived. Jesus goes out and crosses the Jordan going toward the place where John had baptized. In this way He indicates the continuity of His mission with the mission of John. He helped people to become aware of how God acts in history. The people recognize in Jesus the one whom John had announced.
4) Personal questions
• The Jews condemn Jesus in the name of God, in the name of the image that they have of God. Have I ever condemned someone in the name of God?
• Do you reveal the presence of Jesus within you by the works that you do?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh is my rock and my fortress,
my deliverer is my God.
I take refuge in Him, my rock, my shield,
my saving strength, my stronghold,
my place of refuge. (Ps 18:2)