5th Week of Lent
1st Reading: Jer 20:10-13
I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.” But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O Lord of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!
Gospel: Jn 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.
REJECTION OF LIFE: As we come nearer the season of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see the Jews taking stones with the aim of killing Jesus. In the same way in the Old Testament Jeremiah is being threatened and has to seek refuge in God. In rejecting Jeremiah, they reject God, they reject Life. In the same way, rejecting that Jesus is the Son of God, even when He has done so many wonderful works, is rejecting God, It is rejecting Life. Jesus was sent by the Father for the salvation of humanity. This salvation calls upon us to repent and do works of mercy which include reaching out to the less-privileged. It calls upon us to obey the commandments: Love God and Love our neighbours. When we fail to be guided by the Word of God, we are no different from the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus, who rejected God, who rejected Eternal Life.
Prayer: Lord, deliver me from evil thoughts.
FRIENDS TURNED INTO ADVERSARIES: Jeremiah is one of the prophets who suffered because of his prophetic vocation. False prophets are normally praised by everybody. Every true prophet has in a way to be persecuted and hated because he speaks uncomfortable words. These words turn friends into enemies who wish to trap him in his very words, so as to condemn him. Jesus faces the same fate of being attacked and stoned for “making himself God.” He gives witness to the union he lives with God the Father. He invites all including his adversaries to make the same experience of being united with God. This union with God cannot be explained in words; it can only be experienced.
MANY THERE BEGAN TO BELIEVE IN HIM: The gospel narrative of today is very similar to that of yesterday. Even though both are from the Gospel of John, they are not talking about the same incident. These narratives, typical to John, demonstrate the level of tension between the leaders of the Jews and Jesus. This will ultimately provide the historical reasons for the crucifixion of Jesus. A silver lining to this conflict is the fact that others still believed in Jesus. John adds this from time to time (Jn 2:11; 4:31; 7:31; 8:30; 10:42; 11:45; 12:42). In fact, as the Gospel of John reiterates, those who believe in him will have life in him (Jn 20:31), and they will be children of God (Jn 1:12). The belief that John is talking about is not just an intellectual assent, it is a deep relationship that leads to an experience of God in him. May our Lenten journey facilitate this experience for us.