Intention: For justice in our world, especially for all who are forgotten or excluded, abandoned or abused, persecuted or exploited, that good people everywhere will rise to their defense and come to their aid.
Today’s Gospel | John 10:31-42
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods’?” If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.
He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.
A Lenten Reflection
As we move through the Gospel readings leading up to Holy Week, we see the escalating tension between Jesus and his opponents in the Temple establishment. Jesus’ adversaries reject him as a blasphemer and his teachings as heresy. Even his invitation to accept at least what God is trying to do for them falls on deaf ears. In their obstinacy, we see what Jesus so often warned his disciples against when he spoke to them about the self-righteousness of passing judgment on others.
Rarely does a day go by when we do not need to make a judgement. Our lives are filled with decision making, from what type of clothes we prefer to buy to what kind of person we prefer to marry. But when the act of choosing is intended to disrespect and diminish something or someone, then we move from making a choice to imposing a condemnation. We are taking it upon ourselves to degrade the worth of others, often in order to place ourselves above them. In doing this, we injure both them and ourselves. As author Steve Maraboli writes, “When we are judging everything, we are learning nothing.” Rather than finding in our differences with others the opportunity for insight and growth, we attack them as threats to the reality that we have constructed for ourselves, justifying our prejudices and perpetuating our ignorance.
The need to judge others often comes from an empty spot within ourselves. Our judgments of others can be rooted in our own issues, offering more truth about what is happening inside of us than about what is happening inside of them. Lent is a time to ask God for healing of those spots, so that what is broken in our hearts and spirits might be made whole and healthy again. Then, we can move forward with renewed eyes to see others with humility and compassion, and to live our lives in welcome and service and without any need to judge.
Eternal Father, just as you are one with your Son, we ask for the faith and strength to be one with each other. In this holy time of Lent, help us to wash all selfishness from our hearts, our minds, our words, and our actions. May we serve you through our care and example to one another. Bless us with the courage to always do your will. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.