The Gospel according to 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.
Reflection: As we draw closer to Holy Week, and to Good Friday, we begin to see that hatred was growing toward Jesus. To hate Jesus and to desire to stone Him to death is an act of the greatest irrationality. But this is what happened. Little by little, those who were against Jesus grew in boldness until that ultimate day came when He laid down His life for us and willingly embraced His death.
Over the next two weeks it’s good to face this irrationality and persecution head on. It’s good to see the hatred of so many and to name it for what it is. No, it’s not a pleasant thought, but it is reality. It’s the world we live in. And it’s a reality we will all face in our lives.
When confronting evil and persecution, we should do so as Jesus did. He faced it without fear. He faced it with the truth and never accepted the lies that many people threw at Him.
The fact of the matter is that the closer we grow toward God, the greater the persecution and hatred we will encounter. Again, this may not make sense to us. It’s easy to think that if we are close to God and strive for holiness everyone will love and praise us. But it wasn’t that way for Jesus and it will not be that way for us either.
One key to holiness is that in the midst of persecution, suffering, hardship and sorrow, we stand firm in the truth. It’s always tempting to think that we must be doing something wrong when things do not go our way. It’s easy to be confused by the lies that the world throws at us when we try to stand for goodness and the truth. One thing God wants of us, in the midst of our own crosses, is to purify our faith and resolve to stand firm in His Word and Truth.
When we face some cross or some persecution it can be like getting hit in the head. We may feel like we are in a daze and can give into panic and fear. But these are the times, more than any other, when we need to stand strong. We need to remain humble but deeply convicted about all that God has said and revealed to us. This deepens our ability to trust God in all things. It’s easy to say we trust God when life is easy; it’s hard to trust Him when the cross we face is heavier.
Action: Reflect, today, that no matter what your cross may be, it is a gift from God in that He desires to strengthen you for some greater purpose. As Saint John Paul the Great said over and over during his pontificate, “Do not be afraid!” Face your fears and let God transform you in the midst of them.