Spiritual Reflection – 28th March
In the Gospel passage appointed for Mass today (John 7:40-52), we find ourselves following Jesus as he very definitely has to deal with the hostility of his nation’s leaders, who steadfastly refuse to accept him, even as their own paramilitary police confess that ‘No man ever spoke like this man’ and avoided having to arrest one who they instinctively, it would seem, recognized as possessing an authority which was above that of the priests and scribes.
We, too, recognize that authority in Jesus but, unlike even the sympathetic people of his own day, recognize that authority as being Divine. We know that Jesus is not merely a good man or even a prophet, but the God who created all things, who has chosen to become incarnate for our salvation!
CS Lewis, one of the most perceptive Christian communicators of the 20th Century, once pointed out that Jesus could not possibly be merely a good man, a great moral teacher. On the contrary, he either had to be ‘mad, bad or God’, as no good man could go around claiming to be divine, as Jesus did, when he was a mere mortal. If he was deluded into thinking he was divine when he was only human, then he was mad, and no trust should be placed in the deluded ravings of a madman. His enemies certainly did not think he was a bad man, although some of them certainly thought he might be possessed by demons (John 8:48). However, no serious and impartial witness believed he was in any sense mad or possessed and his recorded words give the lie to that notion! That leaves only the option of accepting that Jesus was, indeed, who he claimed to be – that is, God become Man, the Word Incarnate! As such, for God cannot, by definition, be either deceived or lie, his word is true and his teaching, however strange or difficult to accept, is absolutely true and to be trusted at all times and in all places.
Thus, when we find Jesus teaching that all those who follow him, who believe and trust in him, will inherit eternal life with him in God’s Kingdom, we can have faith that his words are Truth itself. Even in the most testing of circumstances, even in the face of the certainty of our death, we can be sure that the promises of him who has overcome death because he is Lord even of Death, are certain and sure.
As we begin to follow ever more closely the Way of the Cross over the next two weeks, we are not reflecting merely on a series of long-gone historical events. Rather, we meditate on the events which have won our immortality and life with God, that have made possible our theosis, our ‘divinization’, whereby we are made fit for life with Christ in the Kingdom. This, not ‘Easter Bunnies’, the ‘greening of nature’ with newly-awakened Springtime life or the lifting of the gloom of winter is the true message of Easter, to which these are merely mute witnesses.
As we walk in the footsteps of Jesus over the holy fortnight ahead, let us trust in him, meditate on his holy Passion and seek to serve him here as he would have us. Trusting in him, let us recognize in this dusty Galilean of long ago our eternal and true God who indeed spoke as no other person has ever spoken, for he has the Words of Eternal Life.