30 March. Friday of Week 5 of Lent
Jeremiah 20:10ff. Though many plot against God’s servant, he is safe in God’s hands.
John 10:31ff. Amid growing danger to Jesus’ life, he withdraws to a quiet place.
Not Rejecting Prophets
Both Jeremiah and Jesus are hounded by friends and even relatives who have turned against them. Erstwhile companions feel betrayed when their own personal interests and security are threatened. Jeremiah speaks of the Lord who “has rescued the life of the poor” and Jesus cures the helpless – the blind and the crippled, the deaf and the mute – and returns them to full vigour on the Sabbath. Each is condemned because each is upsetting the comfortable, legal system and shifting concern from red-tape to people. The opposition against Jeremiah and Jesus are not openly bad people. They know their Bible and its laws; they can quote them from memory. Yet these had become just sounds, no longer meaningful words.
Commandments can become idols worshipped in place of God. They can be quoted to control God and to dictate how God must act in the future. Religious people can find sanctimonious security in unchangeable rules. All of us can fall into this trap. But Jesus condemned this hidebound view when he compared these people to “white-washed tombs” (Matt 23:27). Their rigidity is prompted by “their father the devil” (John 8:44).
We can correct this evil tendency lurking in all good people, first by an outgoing, common-sense, delicate sensitivity towards the needs of others. Then we must root ourselves in God, whose will needs always to be discerned in truth. Jeremiah calls the Lord, “you who probe mind and heart.” Jesus lets his spirit sink into the source of his eternal existence, “the Father who is in me and I in him.” We must repeat with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13
For I hear many whispering: “Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. “Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him.”
But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonour will never be forgotten.
O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.
Gospel: John 10:31-42
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’ – and the scripture cannot be annulled – can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.