April 3, 2014

The Gospel Today 

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“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?”

Reflection (Sem. Enrico Terrel):

     St. Augustine once said, “Faith is to believe what we do not see. The reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” In the Gospel narrative, the Pharisees and many Jews have not only seen Jesus Christ and His works. They have also heard much about His teachings. In fact, John the Baptist also testified about Jesus Christ as the true light who will come into the world to enlighten everyone. Furthermore, John the Baptist added that as “he baptizes with water, the One who is to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” Moreover, God the Father Himself testified about Jesus. This was evident in the person of Christ because He is the visible image of the Invisible God. There is no one like Jesus. No one can turn water into a wine. No one can heal a sick boy who was near death and a long suffering cripple man through the power of words. The works that only Jesus can perform testified to the truth that He was sent by the Father. Even the Sacred Scriptures spoke about Christ. It regarded Jesus as the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. Likewise, while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. A commentary on the Gospel according to St. John says: “grace and truth may represent two Old Testament terms describing Yahweh in covenant relationship with Israel. Exodus 34,6 supports this point. It shows that Jesus as the Word who became flesh shares the qualities of Yahweh who is in covenant with His beloved people.”

     Despite the numerous witnesses that were presented, the Pharisees and the Jews still did not believe. Their unbelief only manifested their stubbornness and closeness of heart. They were so much preoccupied with fulfilling faithfully the law that was handed over to them by Moses. They failed to recognize and chose to ignore Jesus who is the fulfilment of the law. They were eventually exposed by Christ when He said to them, “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not accept the praise that comes from the only God?” The Pharisees’ single mindedness in terms of fulfilling the prescriptions of the Mosaic law was not really intended to be faithful to the covenant with God but to win the praise of the people around them. Being so full of themselves, they failed to see that they would be praiseworthy in the eyes of God by believing in Jesus Christ the Son of God along with His teachings and works. We have just witnessed Christ speaking to us through His words. Are we going to believe?

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