FRIDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF LENT
READ: 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.
Read that first sentence again. Our reading begins today with men who have rocks in their hands, preparing to stone Jesus to death. Why? Because Jesus was making bold claims. He was claiming to be the Son of God, a claim that, unproven, was blasphemy, a claim worthy of death. So what does Jesus say to the men who are prepared to kill him for this claim? "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." Jesus tells them not to simply believe Him because of His words, but to be convinced that He is truly the Son of God by His actions--by His miracles, and ultimately by His death and resurrection.
If you are reading this, you would probably call yourself a Christian. This passage, then, serves as a challenge for us personally. It's one thing for us to claim to be Christian; it's another thing to actually have our actions and our lives bear witness to the reality that we are followers of Christ. The credibility of our claim comes from how we live our lives.
But to clarify, this isn't a passage that encourages us to be good people. To be a Christian is different from just being a good person, for one could be an atheist and still be a good person. We are called to live lives to an even higher standard. For us to be credible as Christians, we must do what Jesus did. So what did Jesus do? We see these works of Jesus throughout Scripture. Jesus didn't just surround Himself with "Church people"; He went out of His comfort zone to seek out the lost, to dine with sinners, to spend time with the outcast. He forgave those who mocked Him, tortured Him, and crucified Him. He prayed for those who hated Him. Jesus was not prideful and obsessed with His own plan for His life, but He surrendered Himself to the plan of the Father, even when that plan involved suffering. He put others first. He sacrificed for the sake of others. He laid down His life. It is our striving to live like this and our faithful commitment to the teachings of Jesus that will be the credibility of our claim.
Please do not let this passage and this reflection be a source of discouragement. We all fail at this daily. None of us are perfect followers, but this should not surprise us. In fact, this reality should remind us that living this life, a life of witness, requires of us that we put Jesus first, because we recognize that the strength we need to actually live like Him can only come from Him. We need the grace of the Sacraments. We need to spend time with Him in prayer each day, the time in which we, the students, learn from the Teacher and encounter Him deeper. We cannot live like Jesus without the unfailing help, the grace, of Jesus. Let us ask for that grace today, that we might be credible followers of Jesus.
What works or actions of Jesus in Scripture reveal that He is who He says He is?
What works or actions of Jesus in your own life have revealed to you that He is who He says He is?
Do your actions make your claim that you are a Christian credible? Why or why not?
Where do you need grace to be a better witness, a better follower of Jesus? (Think of the situations and the people that most challenge you to act like Jesus)
R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice. I love you, O LORD, my strength, O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! Praised be the LORD, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies. The breakers of death surged round about me, the destroying floods overwhelmed me; The cords of the nether world enmeshed me, the snares of death overtook me. In my distress I called upon the LORD and cried out to my God; From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. R. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
What one way will you seek to live like Jesus today?