The Gospel according to John (7:1-2, 10, 25-30)
Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
Reflection: Sometimes the more familiar we are with someone the harder it is to actually see their goodness and the presence of God in their lives. We are tempted to look at them and presume we “know all about them.” As a result, what we can often do is simply highlight their faults and weaknesses in our minds and see them only through the lens of these faults and weaknesses.
When Jesus went to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, there were some there who knew Him. They most likely knew Him as the ordinary son of a carpenter. Perhaps they were even from His hometown. As a result of this familiarity with Jesus, they immediately doubted He could be the Messiah. But they were, of course, mistaken.
This presents a great lesson for us. It’s the lesson of being judgmental and overly critical of others we know well. The more we know about someone the more we are aware of their faults and weaknesses. And if we are not careful, we will focus in on those qualities, rather than on the good qualities God wants us to see.
This is what happened with Jesus. He did not have any actual bad qualities. He was perfect. But there were most likely many parts of His life that invited the false judgment and criticism of others. His self-confidence, the authority He manifested in His teaching, the extraordinary compassion He had toward sinners, etc., were all exceptional qualities that some simply didn’t understand. And, as a result, they chose to be critical. “We know where He is from,” they said. In other words, they did not think that someone they knew could be filled with greatness.
What do you think about those around you? What do you think about those closest to you? Are you able to see beyond any apparent weakness they have and see the hand of God at work? Are you able to see beyond the surface and see the value and dignity of their lives? When you can see the goodness of others, point it out, and be grateful for it, you will actually be seeing and loving the manifest goodness of God. God is alive and active in every soul around you. It is your responsibility to see that goodness and love it. This takes true humility on your part but, in the end, it’s a way of loving God in your midst.
Action: Today, reflect upon how you look at those who are closest to you. Spend some time pondering the ways that God is alive in their lives. Find God in them. If you do this, you will be loving God in your very midst and you will see those closest to you as true gifts from God.