READ: JN 5:41-47
Jesus said to the Jews:
"I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?"
In our passage today we read Jesus' words as he calls out the hard-hearted Jewish authorities. It can be awkward to hear Jesus speak so harshly, because it seems to contradict the image of a "pleasant toward everyone" Jesus that we are often presented with. The problem with that conception of Christ, is that it reduces his authentic love to a permissive politeness. God hates sin. He hates it, because he loves us. He is the destiny we were created for, and he is in opposition to everything that stands in the way of that end.
With this in mind we can understand his harshness towards the Pharisees. They refuse to listen to Jesus. They refuse to see past their conception of the kingdom of God. So much so, they can't even recognize it when it's literally staring them in the face. In love Jesus calls them out in an attempt to shake them from the paralysis of worldly praise and powerful position.
We face the same temptations as the Jews. How often do lean on our own conception of the world before trusting God's word? How often do we put other people's opinions of us before the commands of the gospel? In the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture it says:
Jesus contrasts seeking praise from other people with seeking praise from God (5:44). When a person does something truly good, it is appropriate that praise be given to that one. But as St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “Glory, in the sense of fame, is the least permanent of things; in fact, nothing is more variable than opinion and human praise.” The desire for fame and praise from people can be a powerful temptation to sin (Luke 4: 5– 8; John 7: 1– 10). At one level, it can lead us to do bad things so that others may approve of us. At a deeper level, the desire for fame can make us so self-absorbed that we lose sight of what is good and important in life: love of God and love of neighbor. Ironically, by seeking self-exaltation, we can make ourselves the slaves of others because we allow their opinions to determine how we should live. This temptation to seek human rather than divine approval is especially strong for those in leadership positions of any kind— occupational, political, religious, and so forth. Since the success of such leaders is often measured by how much people like them, it is easy for them to forget that they are accountable first of all to God and that their true value is the approval given by God. Jesus calls us to keep our priorities in order and to live life according to God, who is truth and goodness itself.
Martin, Francis; Wright, William M. IV (2015-04-28). The Gospel of John (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) (p. 112). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
In what ways do we put the praise of others before the approval of God?
How do we measure "success" in our life? By faithfulness to the Lord, or the affirmation of others?
Do we truly believe that God's love is enough to satisfy us?
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
The LORD is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful
How did God challenge you today in prayer?