DAILY READINGS AND REFLECTION
Friday (3 April 2020), 5th Week in Lent
Jeremiah 20:10-13 – He has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men.
JEREMIAH said: I hear so many disparaging me, ‘“Terror from every side!” Denounce him! Let us denounce him!’ All those who used to be my friends watched for my downfall, ‘Perhaps he will be seduced into error. Then we will master him and take our revenge!’
But the Lord is at my side, a mighty hero; my opponents will stumble, mastered, confounded by their failure; everlasting, unforgettable disgrace will be theirs.
But you, O Lord of Hosts, you who probe with justice, who scrutinise the loins and heart, let me see the vengeance you will take on them, for I have committed my cause to you.
‘Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hands of evil men.
John 10:31-42 – They wanted to stone Jesus, but he eluded them
THE Jews fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, ‘I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?’ The Jews answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’
Jesus answered: ‘Is it not written in your Law: I said, you are gods? So the Law uses the word gods of those to whom the word of God was addressed, and scripture cannot be rejected.
‘Yet you say to someone the Father has consecrated and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because he says, “I am the son of God.”
‘If I am not doing my Father’s work, there is no need to believe me; but if I am doing it, then even if you refuse to believe in me, at least believe in the work I do; then you will know for sure that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’
They wanted to arrest him then, but he eluded them. He went back again to the far side of the Jordan to stay in the district where John had once been baptising.
Many people who came to him there said, ‘John gave no signs, but all he said about this man was true’; and many of them believed in him.
YESTERDAY, in chapter 8 of St. John, we heard that at the end of the heated debate with Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles (October), the Jews picked up stones to throw at Him. In today’s confrontation (Jn 10), at the temple in Jerusalem during the Feast of the Dedication (December), the Jews fetched stones to stone him (to death), and wanted to arrest Him there and then.
But Jesus eluded them, withdrew to hide in the district where John the Baptist was once baptizing. Between the unbelieving Jews and Jesus, things were really coming to a head.
How are things between Jesus and us, in these final days of Lent as we move into Palm Sunday and Holy Week?
The Jews say they accept the good work of Jesus – His loving ministry of preaching, of healing, exorcising etc. The specific crime for which they want to stone Jesus is not ‘for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God’.
But Jesus still picks on the issue of their dishonest separation of His work and word. Citing Ps 82:5, He says His claim as the Son of God is truth attested in the Scripture and Scripture cannot be rejected: “You too are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you”.
Everyone knows, work/deed speaks louder and more clearly than words in revealing who a person is, truly. Jesus’ work is clear evidence that ‘the Father has consecrated and sent (Him) into the world’.
On this principle of knowing someone by his deed and work, Jesus insists: ‘If I am not doing my Father’s work, there is no need to believe me; but if I am doing it, then even if you refuse to believe in me, at least believe in the work I do’.
If the Jews were really honest and have no problem in believing in His work then (by believing in His work) they ‘will know for SURE that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.’ It’s clear. If we see Jesus and His deeds, then we too will know for sure that He is One with the Father; He is divine!
(Have we met with Jesus and known Him better in His life, words and deeds this Lent?)
Of course, Jesus knows only too well the true reason that blinds the Jews from believing in Him. They have been politically agitated by their leaders who are jealous and see Jesus as a threat to their influence and power.
Jesus is right. The people in the far side of the Jordan where John the Baptist was once baptizing have no problem believing in Him after seeing “signs” (works and deeds, miracles) He did. They say: ‘John (the Baptist) gave no signs, but all he (John) said about this man (Jesus) was true’; and many of them believed in him’.
They remember what they heard from John: I baptize you with water, but the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the Beloved Son of God, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus is safe with this people at the Jordan, until the “hour” when He will be delivered into the hands of his enemies.
All these fights between Jesus and the Jews happened over two thousand years ago. We know how they ended. They crucified Him. In a sense, the past doesn’t matter.
The question that concerns us is: Have we seen Jesus, His life and His deeds, and believed in Him or have we been blinded by the fear of having to believe, convert, and to change our lifestyle even as we say we are preparing to join Him this Holy Week?
Jeremiah in today’s first reading can help to ally our fears. With him who suffered terrible injustice and persecution even from his close friends, we can, by the special grace of Lent, also cry out in a small desperate voice: “I have committed my cause to you (God). Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord!’
Loving Father, You sent Jesus to make me free, free from fear – fear caused by every shade of death. Send Your Spirit into the deepest recesses of my being.
Remove all blinding fears from me. Give me the strength of your grace to see, repent, and believe in Your victorious Son.
Increase my little faith that with Your Beloved Son I will overcome all guardedness and fear, and walk with Him to Jerusalem, to suffering and death, and march on to the Empty Tomb, to Resurrection and Life. Amen.