Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent
(Wisdom 2:1a.12-22; John 7:1-2,10.25-30)
There exist manuscripts of Matthew’s gospel which name Barabbas “Jesus Barabbas.” This would be the full name of the notorious bandit whose release the people demand in all four passion narratives. Barabbas is obviously a patronym since bar in Hebrew means son of. Then he would be Jesus, the son of Abbas. But, of course, Abbas means father in Hebrew. So Barabbas may be in a sense Jesus, son of the Father. But this is very similar to the way Christians recognize Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God the Father. In today’s gospel Jesus notes a similar confusion about his identity.
The Jews think that they know who Jesus is. They say that he is from Galilee and is the son of Joseph and Mary. Although that is true in a sense, it does not indicate Jesus’ deepest origins. As he yells in the temple area, he is from the one who sent him whom the Jews do not know. Of course, he is referring to God, his Father in heaven.
What is important is that we do not become confused about who Jesus is. As John, the evangelist, continually emphasizes, he is the Son of God. He came from God to save us from our sinful desires. In acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, we imply that he is our lawgiver and our protector. He also came to be our best friend. With good reason then we are wise to follow him.