April 5, 2017
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignation
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 253

Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
John 8:31-42

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As I sit to write this Reflection I can imagine that you, the reader/pray-er are hoping for something new and exciting.  For my part I am wondering if this is possible. The disciples with whom Jesus is speaking, are not seeking anything new nor exciting. They are faithful to their being descendants of their father Abraham, who himself was so faithful to the very new of his call.

The interpretation of the relationship between Jesus and “the Jews” in John’s gospel has contributed to a painful anti-Jewish history  in our Church.   The horrors of the Shoah, the Holocaust have called the Church to atone for this past and to build a new relationship with our Jewish brothers and sisters.   John’s gospel,   through Jesus' words , attacks those whom it calls "the Jews," from whom the disciples of Jesus differ religiously.  The Johannine Christians and "the Jews" do not differ in venerating the Scriptures and the Jewish religious heritage but in their estimation of Jesus.

Today’s  Gospel reading reflects the struggle beween those Jews who  have become  disciples  of Jesus  and “The Jews’ who do not follow Jesus.  For our encouragement, John presents Jesus as showing up consistently as person and messenger and messiah. We hear Him say hard things to His disciples, other Jews, the Pharisees, and ourselves.

It might be helpful and graceful to prayerfully ponder how each of us receives what and who are challenging to our religious traditions and beliefs. How accepting are we of the new immigrants whose beliefs and practices are new-to-us?  We love the new and exciting, if it affirms the old and comfortable. It is quite human of us to find security in the religion of God rather than the God of religion. Jesus is always calling us to personally relate with the personally relating God. If our religion keeps Jesus’ person and mission old, stale and predictable, it is not a relational religion, but a faithless faith which comforts, but is not alive.  Jesus is likewise calling us to a community of faith which reflects that God-initiated relationship which is open to learn from other faith traditions.   

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