Reflection on John 10.31-42 (Lent)

The Jews took up stones again to stone Jesus.

How often do you find yourself getting angry when you hear an item on a news broadcast, or when you hear some snippet of local gossip? Is your anger generated by a sense of having been let down, or simply because you do not agree with what has been said? Do you express your anger in words and actions, or do you bottle it up and stomp around in a bad temper for a while?

In today’s reading we encounter the Jews, once again, taking up stones to throw at Jesus. They did not wish to harm him because of the wonderful things he was doing, but because they saw his words and actions as being blasphemous. That is, they viewed Jesus’ words and actions as being irreverent and impious, rather than a model of how God and humanity should interact.

As the reading progresses we hear Jesus putting forward a reasoned argument against the attitude of the Jews, an argument that reveals the human-centric attitude of those who would attack Jesus. Just as we feel the anger rising in us when the news or the gossip flies in the face of our self-reliant certainty, so the Jews felt justified in seeking to expunge Jesus from their midst because his mission led him to stand out from the crowd, to turn his back on the norms of the religious community and to stand firm in his conviction that a relationship with his heavenly Father was not, and is not, dependent on ‘toeing the party’ line. Of course, we do have to be careful at this point. The Jews were convinced that they were right and that Jesus was in the wrong. We also live in a world that is founded upon such self-assurance. Too often our anger at the words and actions of others is not founded upon the teachings of Christ, but upon our absolute certainty that we are right.

The challenge in today’s reading revolves, once again, around our response to the call to live in humility. The humility that will bring us into a closer relationship with God will never see us raising our arms to throw stones at others. The life we are called to live is one of prayerful love for our fellow human beings. The humility that should underpin our daily lives should be rooted in our acceptance that God knows best!

Let us pray that we might be given the strength to love as Christ loves us. Let us pray that we might not be eaten up with righteous indignation, but rather that we might be driven with a spirit of acceptance and forgiveness. Let us pray that we might be given the wisdom to know when we are in the wrong, and that God really does know better than us.