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 8:12-20
Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.” So they said to him, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the temple area. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
A Lenten Reflection
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is dealing once again with his enemies within the Temple leadership. Pharisees are asking questions as if they do not grasp what Jesus is telling them. In fact, they understand quite well what Jesus is saying, but they are determined to undermine it. With his every word, Jesus confronts them with their lack both of faith and of faithfulness. They preach devotion to God yet reject his grace. They assume the role of shepherds yet prey on the flock that they claim to protect. By exposing their charade in public, Jesus threatens the key to the success of their deceptions.
For the Temple establishment, having control over people’s dreams of fulfillment was central to its power. There is arguably no emotional force stronger than that of our aspirations for our lives. What people want more than anything else is that they and their loved ones can reach that place of happiness where they always have wanted to be. Perhaps that is why we tend to gravitate so quickly to anyone who tells us what we long to hear, and why we can be so easily misled about what salvation really is. The Pharisees knew this. Fortunately for us, so did Jesus.
Author and artist Ann Marie Aguilar wrote, “Be careful who influence and inspire your life. Their ways seem like leading to life but the truth is, they lead to eternal death.” In a world where fact and falsehood are so easily and often deliberately confused, it is up to us to know the difference. To meet this responsibility, we must rely on Gods’ grace to guide us to his truth, in which we will know our redemption. During this time of Lent, we reflect on Christ’s call to discipleship and to living as God’s children in his light.
Eternal Father, the light of your Son is meant to help us make our way without becoming lost in darkness. Yet, there are times when we are living in darkness and do not even realize it. In this time of Lent, help us to awaken ourselves to the reality of our sinfulness and our need to follow you into the light. May we come to know and serve you better, and may we always walk in the truth of your ways. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.