We have entered the season of Holy Lent, the second such during the pandemic, which in itself provides opportunities for sacrifice: adhering to public health guidelines as an act of charity towards others, and appropriate love of self in doing what we can to protect ourselves from being infected. It is a strain, which we can unite with the extreme stress Jesus endured as He moved ever closer to His Passion and Death.
St. John, in noting the reaction of the crowd who heard the voice of the Father speaking to Jesus and through Jesus to the people, reveals two examples of how human beings witnessing an event can experience the event dramatically differently: Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” [v.29]
Some commentators see the first group as lacking faith, the other group has having a little faith. Perhaps. It is Jesus Himself who makes things clear: Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for My sake but for yours.” [v.30] Whenever we hear the voice of the Father here or in the Synoptics it is the voice of Love Himself for us, the very voice which speaks in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament, and always when we hear the voice of the Father, the voice of Jesus we also hear the voice of the Holy Spirit for all love, all grace, all mercy lavished upon us, spoken to us, is Trinitarian.
The voice of the Father had come to Him on two other occasions when His mission to the Cross was foremost: at His baptism, when He appeared as the Lamb of God to be sacrificed for sin; at His Transfiguration, when He spoke of his death to Moses and Elijah while bathed in radiant glory……In each of the three manifestations of the Father, Our Lord was in prayer to His Father, and His sufferings were predominantly before Him. On this occasion, it was the effects of His ransoming death that were proclaimed. 
This close to His Passion we hear in His words, as Jesus continues to teach, an urgency, the urgency of Love for those to whom He speaks in this moment for each of us, such is the inexhaustible fire of His love for us: “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to Myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death He would die.” [vs. 31-33]
How is it then that satan, driven out of the world is still active? How is it that Jesus having drawn everyone across the millennia, this very day, and until the end of time, so many still refuse to believe, or have abandoned the faith they once had?
Simply because the Holy Trinity offers love, offers salvation, but never imposes, never takes away our free will, but always offers and offers the grace, as needed, for us to repent and begin again, for it is we humans, by our choices, who invite satan back into the world, we are the persons who, when we sin, turn our backs on Christ.
So the crowd answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. Then how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? [v.34]
While Christians, who meditate upon the Holy Gospel, or at least are attentive to the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed during Sunday liturgies, know the answer to the questions posed by the crowd, they had only the Hebrew Scriptures, what we Christians call the Old Testament, to rely upon. Nonetheless it is both interesting and poignant the longing wrapped up in their questions.
Jesus said to them, “The light will be among you only a little while. Walk while you have the light, so that darkness may not overcome you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of the light.” [v.35,36]
People who live in modern cities, towns, villages have little experience of walking in the absence of light, unless perhaps camping in the bush, though even there total darkness is rarely experienced because of the light of the moon and the stars.
Enter a deep cave in a mountain side, turn off any manmade source of light and the darkness is total, so much so even holding our own hands so close to our eyes, perhaps even touching them, the thick darkness prevents our eyes ability to discern palm or fingers.
Jesus’ words point beyond our external experiences of light and darkness.
It is a matter of the heart, soul, mind.
It is therefore a matter of choice, choice to be people of faith or not.
The key is Jesus urging us to believe in the light – and He is LIGHT – or not, to choose to be, as He says, children of the light, not children of darkness.
Before St. John tells us the crowd’s reaction, he ends verse 36 with words that are stark in their brevity: These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
Note it is not that Jesus goes into hiding, rather than He is hidden from the crowd.
No one can see Jesus, our Light, if we choose not to believe that is to choose a blindness of mind, heart and soul, a more devastating blindness than loss of physical sight.
 LIFE OF CHRIST; Fulton Sheen; pp. 268,269; Image Books, 1990 ~italics are mine.
© 2021 Fr. Arthur Joseph
Post a Comment