March 31, 2020 Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent John 8:21-30
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.
Our Lord is stating very clearly that he knows what is going to happen and where he is going. If we step back this will, hopefully, instill in us confidence and hope that he was not the victim of circumstances. You and I might feel this way (and sometimes it is very hard to change those feelings) but Jesus knows – he knows what is going to happen to him and he knows the same thing when it comes to you and me. This in no way impinges (takes away or diminishes) free will. It is – to be honest – a mystery but if it was not true then God would not be God by the very definition of what it means to be God (Omniscient being one of his attributes).
This is both a statement of comfort and one that is (I’m not sure any other word than) scary. Jesus states – and he is addressing these Pharisees but all those who knowingly reject him because they do not – they at some point refuse – to be open to him (and God knows this and the person would know it – at some point – as well) … that these individuals if they do not use their precious time well and refuse to repent then this will what is said of 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 – to knowingly reject Jesus … to reject his grace that calls us to God … will result in our eternal loss. Like I said – scary words but they are also meant to, in a sense, shock us out of our complacency, out of our refusal to make a decision or just put things off.
We need to look at life in all of its aspects and not just settle for a “horizontal view” of everything … meaning that we live as if we are just going along this world and then … then … what??? Nothing? No – there is something and someone who awaits us and it is a binary option: God or Satan.
You and I are called to use our time well – while we are here in this world. This teaching of Jesus should not lead us to try and force anyone to accept him but rather (no one can be or should forced to accept anything) but rather we (believers) are challenged to be authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church.
Then all we can do is leave the rest to God. God will resolve all things — in the meantime it is for you and me to be good examples, the best examples to those around us.