Scripture: Lectionary 255. Genesis 17:3-9. Psalm 105:4-5.6-7.8-9. John
It is sad that Jesus has to slip out of the Temple prescincts in order to
avoid being stoned to death. His proclamations are too strong for the
religious leaders who do not believe in Jesus, though many do as we learned
yesterday. Religious leaders are more convinced of their own learning and
beliefs and are unwilling to have a new way of looking at things. Father
Raymond E. Brown, SS. had this acute remark about those who are
self-convinced they are always right: "If one reflects on the opposition
encountered by Jesus' demand, the Gospels record litte of rejection of him
by sinners but quite the opposite from those who considered themselves
right." (National Catholic Educational Association, Keynote Address, April
Jesus confronted the leaders who assembled in the prescincts of the Temple
with his teachings, his preaching, and his healing of troubled people and
those who were ill. He recalls the important ancestor of our faith,
Abraham, and states that "before Abraham came to be, I AM." This would
strike the listeners as blasphemy and thus the possibility of Jesus being
stoned by them. For Jesus, God, Abraham, and the Prophets are alive--just
as we believe they are through the Communion of Saints. Not to believe in
eternal life stems from their not believing in the one standing before them
who is very much alive.
John, the theologian Evangelist, makes it a crucial point for the listeners
and readers of this Gospel to decide to believe in Jesus. Not to make this
decision is equivalent to death in the spiritual realm. We already are
aware of this point of view from the Prologue: "To his own he came, yet his
own did not accept him." And it continues for those who do believe, "Any
who did accept him he empowered to become children of God." (John 1:11-12).
The Greek word for decision is krisis. John's Gospel is such a
proclamation that it presents a krisis , a crisis moment for everyone who
reads or listens to it with an open heart and mind. Our moment of decision
is present at every hour for us to decide to live and be like Christ.
Belief in Jesus results in eternal life; non belief in death and oblivion.
John, again and again, uses this term krisis to make us aware of the
importance of living faith in the Presence of Jesus. We see it in his
stories, his narratives, signs (healings), words, and actions. Jesus is one
with the Father and existed before eternity as we learn from the opening
lines of the Prologue: "In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in
God's presence, and the Word was God." (John 1:1). We may wish to pray the
Prologue of John for those who are preparing to make the great decision (
krisis) to be baptized. We pray with them as we renew our own baptismal
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