Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him. (John 8:21-30)
There is both an invitation and a challenge in today’s Gospel. How we answer both will tell us what we are truly seeking.
While many believed in Jesus and his message, many others, including the religious leaders, opposed him. Some openly mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief. Some of his listeners walked away.
But the truth is that it’s impossible to be indifferent to Jesus’ word and his judgments. There is no middle ground or neutral parties. That’s the challenge that we face. Do we believe enough to amend our lives so they conform more closely to His? Or do we live our lives “sort of, kind of” but not truly like His?
The cross is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us. God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). To fail to recognize Jesus and where he came from is to remain in spiritual darkness; to believe Jesus and his words is to walk in the joy and light of God’s truth. There are certain opportunities in life that come and do not return. Each of us is given the opportunity to know and to accept Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior. But that opportunity can be rejected and lost.
Believing in Jesus involves not just glancing at Christ on the Cross with our eyes but really becoming one with this mystery, allowing it to penetrate our hearts and all parts of our being so that we may never cease inwardly contemplating Christ on the Cross.
To belong to Jesus and to what is above, we must strive to open our hearts and minds to his truth, especially in those areas of our lives where he is asking for change and conversion.
When we allow that change to happen, our lives become different. We become different people. How? If I love Christ, then I necessarily wish to do what is pleasing to him. And what pleases Christ? My faith, hope, and love; my obedience and my humility; so also, my selfless service to him in those who are materially, morally or spiritually needful of my attention and support.
The goal, the destination, is beyond. Jesus wants to guide us into a deeper relationship with Him. He wants to help us believe in Him and to recognize that there is no one else that can satisfy our longings. Everything else is temporary and partial.
Even if we don’t know it yet, even if we haven’t realized it, deep down what we seek is Jesus.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, grant this day, to direct and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, so that all our thoughts, words and deeds may be according to your Father’s law and thus may we be saved and protected through your mighty help.”
Today, Jesus wants to lead us to a great spiritual healing — even more important than any physical healing — by helping us to look upon him on the Cross not just with our physical eyes but more deeply. He wants us to join him on the Cross and help us look at God, ourselves and the world with his divine lenses. He wants to feed us with the fruit of the new Tree of Life. How can any one of us turn from that invitation?