Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blind to the saving power of God, blind to his mercy (Wednesday, 5th Week of Lent, John 8:31-42)

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,
“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham
and have never been enslaved to anyone.
How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.
A slave does not remain in a household forever,
but a son always remains.
So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.
I know that you are descendants of Abraham.
But you are trying to kill me,
because my word has no room among you.
I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;
then do what you have heard from the Father.”
They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”
Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,
you would be doing the works of Abraham.
But now you are trying to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;
Abraham did not do this.
You are doing the works of your father!”
So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.
We have one Father, God.”
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

* * * * * * * *

The Jews prided themselves in being the “children of Abraham”, that was their solitary boast. On it they based their relationship with God and with others. All those who fell under that category were welcome, everyone else was looked upon with disdain. Jesus reproaches them and reminds them of the real meaning of that boast, that far from enslaving them to their biases, it is meant to liberate them and enable them to worship God for who he truly is and to recognize Jesus as his Messiah. Sadly, not even their being “children of Abraham” seems to have helped them in this direction.

They were blind because they were stubborn, and as they persisted in their stubbornness, so did they remain in their slavery to sin. For Jesus had come to free them, not only from blind prejudice, but from sin itself.

God’s invitation for us to turn away from sin and accept the message of the gospel is constant. It is always there, ready to be accepted into our hearts. But we must take the first step; we have to approach God and in humility, accept that we are in need of his forgiveness and his mercy. Otherwise, we condemn ourselves to the same situation as the Jews of Jesus’ time, face to face with the saving power of God and yet unable to see it clearly.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)