Catching the bull by its tail-Wednesday,5th Week of Lent – John 8:31-42

Catching the bull by its tail-Wednesday, 5th Week of Lent –  John 8:31- 42

So this is a classic case of catching the bull by its tail. The result is obvious; you get bull shit! Not a great way to begin a gospel reflection but it makes the silliness of the Jews quite evident. Jesus is doing some straight talk; the Jews are on an emotional trip to nowhere.

It is for this reason, that by the time we arrive at the end of Chapter 8, it becomes obvious that the two have divergent paths of thinking. Jesus will finally utter the great words, “Before Abraham was, I AM” and with one swift move will declare to the Jews that HE IS GOD.  The Jews will hear a blasphemer and pick stones to kill Him.

In yesterday’s pericope, Jesus reached a point of frustration when He said to the Jews, “why do I speak to you at all?” But hardly has He finished venting His frustrations at their lack of understanding, than He gives them one more shot and tries convincing them, all over again. It’s amazing how the Lord never gives up on us!

The invitation of Jesus is to those who wish to ‘truly be His disciples’. It is an invitation to ‘remain in His word, ‘a word of truth, that will set one free.’ It is God’s word that will preserve us from the bondage of sin. Remember how Jesus battled satan in the desert? He did so by using the ‘word’ against the lies of satan.

Sin ‘enslaves’ us, period! And enslavement to sin deprives us of our ‘permanent place’ in the house of God. But Jesus, the sinless one, has a place there for everyone (Verse 35). It is Jesus who desires to set us free from satan and welcomes us into ‘His house’.  What keeps us away from making that shift, is the ‘I’ of ego. The same ‘I’ that is found as the central alphabet in the word SIN.

It is when we, with The Lord’s help, replace the ‘I’ of ego with the ‘O’ for others, that we truly make the movement from SIN to SON. And Jesus’ promise is clear, “IF the Son makes you free you will be free indeed.” This is where the Jews, some of whom are Jesus’ believers, get it all wrong, and part company. They claim an ‘ancestry from Abraham’, an ‘ancestry of freedom’. 

“We have never, by no means ever been slaves to no one.” This assertion of never having been enslaved is ludicrous in the context of these chapters. The very feast they are observing is that of God’s graceful deliverance of them in the wilderness, as they made their way from Egyptian slavery to the Promised Land. (Ginger Barfield). Besides, politically, they were under the dominion of Roman rule, to say nothing of their own assertion that “they have no king but Caesar.”

The claim of the Jews to be ‘children of Abraham’ can ring as hollow as our claim to be ‘disciples of Jesus.’ Faith is not a privilege, it’s a responsibility. A disciple is called to act positively and not like the Jews who claimed privileges of son-ship to Abraham, but chose to act in murderous ways (verse 37).

It is not enough to claim Christian discipleship based on convention. I may have been baptized a Christian but the point is, when am I going to begin acting like one? It is conviction, not convention that should drive discipleship! And this truth will set us free.

Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit

Fr Warner D’Souza may be contacted on WhatsApp on +91- 9820242151.

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