Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gospel for Friday, 5th Week of Lent

From: John 10:31-42

Jesus and the Father Are One (Continuation)

[31] The Jews took stones again to stone Him (Jesus). [32] Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone Me?" [33] The Jews answered Him, "We stone you for no good work but for blasphemy; because You, being a man, make Yourself God." [34] Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said you are gods'? [35] If He called them gods to whom the word of God came (and Scripture cannot be broken), [36] do you say of Him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'? [37] If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me; [38] but if I do them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father." [39] Again they tried to arrest Him, but He escaped from their hands.

[40] He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there He remained. [41] And many came to Him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this Man was true." [42] And many believed in Him there.

31-33. The Jews realize that Jesus is saying that He is God, but they interpret His words as blasphemy. He was called a blasphemer when He forgave the sins of the paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8), and He will also be accused of blasphemy when He is condemned after solemnly confessing His divinity before the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:63-65). Our Lord, then, did reveal that He was God; but His hearers rejected this revelation of the mystery of the Incarnate God, refusing to examine the proof Jesus offered them; consequently, they accuse Him, a man, of making Himself God. Faith bases itself on reasonable evidence--miracles and prophecies--for believing that Jesus is really man and really God, even though our limited minds cannot work out how this can be so. Thus, our Lord, in order to affirm His divinity once more, uses two arguments which His adversaries cannot refute--the testimony of Sacred Scripture (prophecies) and that of His own works (miracles).

34-36. On a number of occasions the Gospel has shown our Lord replying to the Jews' objections. Here He patiently uses a form of argument which they regards as decisive - the authority of Sacred Scripture. He quotes Psalm 82 in which God upbraids certain judges for acting unjustly despite His reminding them that "You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you" (Psalm 82:6). If this psalm calls the sons of Israel gods and sons of God, with how much more reason should He be called God who has been sanctified and sent by God? Christ's human nature, on being assumed by the Word, is sanctified completely and comes to the world to sanctify men. "The Fathers of the Church constantly proclaim that what was not assumed by Christ was not healed. Now Christ took a complete human nature just as it is found in us poor unfortunates, but one that was without sin, for Christ said of Himself that He was the one `whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world'" (Vatican II, "Ad Gentes", 3).

By using Sacred Scripture (cf. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10; Luke 4:1, 17) Jesus teaches us that Scripture comes from God. Therefore, the Church believes and affirms that "those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles, holds that the books of both the Old and New Testament in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because, having been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-21; 3:15-16) they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church. [...] Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scriptures must be acknowledged as teaching firmly, faithfully, and without error that truth which God wanted put into the sacred writings for the sake of our salvation" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 11).

37-38. The works which our Lord is referring to are His miracles, through which God's power is made manifest. Jesus presents His words and His works as forming a unity, with the miracles confirming His words and His words explaining the meaning of the miracles. Therefore, when He asserts that He is the Son of God, this revelation is supported by the credentials of the miracles He works: hence, if no one can deny the fact of the miracles, it is only right for Him to accept the truth of the words.

41-42. The opposition offered by some people (cf. John 10:20, 31, 39) contrasts with the way other people accept Him and follow Him to where He goes after this. St. John the Baptist's preparatory work is still producing results: those who accepted the Baptist's message now look for Christ and they believe when they see the truth of what the Precursor said: Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (John 1:34).

Work done in the Lord's name is never useless: "Therefore, My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Just as the Baptist's word and example had the effect of helping many people later to believe in Jesus, the apostolic example given by Christians will never be in vain, even though the results may not come immediately. "To sow. The sower went out... Scatter your seed, apostolic soul. The wind of grace will bear it away if the furrow where it falls is not worthy.... Sow, and be certain that the seed will take root and bear fruit" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 794).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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