Thursday, April 4, 2019

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

(Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47)

Astute readers of the gospel will note that there is no trial of Jesus in John’s Passion narrative.  They will ask why Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin in the Passion narratives of Matthew, Mark, and Luke but not in the fourth gospel’s.  Of course, they have a point.  But it is not that there is no trial of Jesus before Jews in the Gospel of John.  Rather he is continually on trial.  Today's gospel passage presents an example. 

The Jews are harassing Jesus because he has healed a paralytic on the Sabbath.  They want to know by what authority did he do so.  Jesus responds by bringing forth witnesses.  His first witness is John the Baptist who said that he saw the Spirit come down to rest on Jesus.  The second testimony that Jesus presents is his mighty works.  He has turned water into wine and cured the royal official’s son as well as the paralytic.  These deeds likewise testify that Jesus is from God.  The third witness is none less than God the Father who prepared the way for Jesus.  As today’s first reading relates, the Father spared the people in Sinai where they had begun to worship an idol.  Jesus is implying that God was merciful that day so that the people’s descendants might see Jesus in whom their numbers will multiply exponentially. 

We live in a time when fewer and fewer of the people in our midst believe that Jesus is God.  They find him a great man but not necessarily any more divine than the Buddha or Socrates.  We must present ourselves as witnesses to Jesus’ divinity along with those whom Jesus names in today’s gospel.  We do so by talking about him with those whom we meet.  We improve on our verbal testimony by following his teaching of love for all.