1) Opening prayer
Our God and Father,
we claim to be your sons and daughters,
who know that you love us,
and that you call us to live
the life of Jesus, your Son.
Give us the courage
to live this life consistently
not to show off, not to reprove others,
but simply because we know
that you are our Father
and we your sons and daughters,
brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading – John 7, 1-2.10.25-30
After this Jesus travelled round Galilee; he could not travel round Judaea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him.
As the Jewish feast of Shelters drew near, his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, not publicly but secretly.
Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have recognised that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’ Then, as Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he cried out: You know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of my own accord: but he who sent me is true; You do not know him, but I know him because I have my being from him and it was he who sent me.
They wanted to arrest him then, but because his hour had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.
• Throughout the chapters from 1 to 12 of the Gospel of John, one discovers the progressive revelation which Jesus makes of himself to the disciples and to the people. At the same time and in the same proportion, the closing up and the opposition of the authority against Jesus increases, up to the point of deciding to condemn him to death (Jn 11, 45-54). Chapter 7, on which we are meditating in today’s Gospel, is a type of evaluation in the middle of the journey. It helps to foresee what will be the implication at the end.
• John 7, 1-2.10: Jesus decides to go to the feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem. The geography of the life of Jesus in the Gospel of John is different from the geography in the other three Gospels. It is more complete. According to the other Gospels, Jesus went only once to Jerusalem, the time when he was taken and condemned to death. According to the Gospel of John he went there at least two or three times to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. This is why we know that the public life of Jesus lasted approximately three years. Today’s Gospel informs us that Jesus directed himself more than once to Jerusalem, but not publicly; hidden because in Judah the Jews wanted to kill him.
• In this chapter 7 as well as in the other chapters, John speaks about the “Jews”and of “you Jews”, as if he and Jesus were not Jews. This way of speaking shows the situation of a tragic breaking which took place at the end of the first century between the Jews (Synagogue) and the Christians (Ecclesia). Throughout the centuries, this way of speaking in the Gospel of John contributes to make anti-Semitism grow. Today, it is very important to keep away from this type of polemics so as not to foster anti-Semitism. We can never forget that Jesus is a Jew. He was born a Jew, lives as a Jew and dies as a Jew. He received all his formation from the Jewish religion and culture.
• John 7, 25-27: Doubts of the people of Jerusalem regarding Jesus. Jesus is in Jerusalem and he speaks publicly to those who want to listen to him. People remain confused. They know that the authorities want to kill Jesus and he does not hide from them. Would it be that the authorities have come to believe in him and recognize that he is the Messiah? But how could Jesus be the Messiah? Everybody knows that he comes from Nazareth, but nobody knows the origin of the Messiah, from where he comes.
• John 7, 28-29: Clarification on the part of Jesus. Jesus speaks about his origin.“You know me and you know where I come from”. But what people do not know is the vocation and the mission which Jesus received from God. He did not come on his own accord, but like any prophet he has come to obey a vocation, which is the secret of his life. ”Yet, I have not come of my own accord but he who sent me is true, and you do not know him. But I know him, because I have my being from him and it was he who sent me”.
• John 7, 30: His hour had not yet come. They wanted to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, “because his hour had not yet come”. In John’s Gospel the one who determines the hour and the events which will take place are not those who have the power, but it is Jesus. He is the one who determines the hour (cf. Jn 2, 4; 4, 23; 8, 20; 12.23.27; 13, 1; 17, 1). Even up to the time when he was nailed to the Cross, it is Jesus who determines the hour of his death (Jn 19, 29-30).
4) Personal questions
• How do I live my relationship with the Jews? Have I discovered sometimes some anti Semitism in me? Have I succeeded in eliminating it?
• Like in the time of Jesus, today also, there are many new ideas and opinions on things which refer to faith. What do I do? Am I attached firmly to the old ideas and close myself up in them, or do I try to understand the why, the reason for the novelty?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh ransoms the lives of those who serve him,
and there will be no penalty
for those who take refuge in him. (Ps 34,24)
Thank you to the Carmelites at ocarm.org for today’s reflection.