Daily Reflection
March 18th, 2005

Luis Rodriguez, S.J.

Chaplain, Creighton University Medical Center
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Jeremiah 20:10-13
Psalm 18:2-7
John 10:31-42

Praying to God, Jeremiah complains today: “All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine”. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were not precisely his friends, but they were certainly watching for a misstep of his and this time they were sure they had caught him in a very serious one. He had said something that appeared to leave no room for an escape from being stoned to death. In responding to them Jesus does dwell on the issue of his words, but he chooses to take them beyond words.

A popular saying tells us that “one picture is worth a thousand words” and that indeed was true, until we learned how to tamper with pictures digitally. What does remain true is that one deed is worth a thousand words and Jesus appeals to the testimony of his deeds to support his words. For us such an appeal might be problematic, because our deeds are not always consistent with our words and indeed they often override them. That is what R. W. Emmerson meant when he remarked that “What you do speaks so loudly, that it does not let me hear what you say.”

But Jesus’ deeds were totally consistent with his words and it was this that vouchsafed for his words and gave them credibility. The religious leaders knew that and they knew that they could neither deny nor change his deeds, so they would try to distort their meaning: “It is in the power of Beelzebub...” [Lk.11:14-40]. I am afraid the tactic is not totally unfamiliar to us. As the saying goes, “When our mind is made up, we don’t like to be confused with facts.”

By contrast the ordinary people, who were not invested in any status quo, recognized the value of Jesus’ deeds and accepted the “signs” Jesus performed. So, as we approach the celebration of THE DEED that sealed the credibility of Jesus’ words —his passion/death/resurrection—, it is a timely moment to pray for openness of heart to recognize it as the ultimate validation of his words.

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