Text, context, pretext- 5th Week of Lent – Friday- John 10: 31-42
A text taken out of its context, is a pretext. That’s what we are looking at in this pericope. The Jews, like some of us, love taking the text of Jesus outside its context, using it as a pretext for their own agenda (or whoever is the target). His question is quite clear, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?”
Chapter 10 opens with a new clash between Jesus and the Jews and occurs at the feast of ‘the Dedication of the temple’, three months after the feast of the Tabernacles (chapter 7). Jesus’ appeal to His ‘good works’ is rejected on the grounds that He has blasphemed, and most of this stems from the fact that in chapter nine, He healed a man born blind on the Sabbath. This is the issue for them; the rest is the excuse or pretext.
Jesus gives a scriptural argument based on the principle of “lesser to a greater.” Jesus says, “If scripture can speak of humans as gods” (Psalm 82:6- Septuagint), then how much more is the case with the consecrated agent of the Father, namely Jesus? (All references from the Jerome Biblical commentary).
In yesterday’s pericope, He said it most plainly, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Let me labour a point here for the sake of those who deny that Jesus is God, and merely from texts such as this pericope say, “Jesus only said, ‘I am the Son of God’.” In responding to the Jews, Jesus says “I am” and they pick up stones to stone Him because they recognize that He is making a claim to be God. The punishment for blasphemy was stoning.
Again in today’s text, the Jews say to Jesus, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” They know who He is claiming to be. The Son of God is God!
Let me quote from the ‘You cat’ (the catechism of the Catholic Church written in a youth friendly way). Number 39 is a question that asks, “Is Jesus God? Does he belong to the Trinity?” The answer which is an abridged version of the longer form of the catechism taken from numbers 243- 260 of the CCC is as follows:
“Jesus of Nazareth is the Son, the second divine person mentioned when we pray, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). It goes on to explain that there are two ways in which people looked at Jesus- as an imposter who made Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath or, that He was really God.’ “The ‘scandal’ came when he forgave sins (for only God could).
In the eyes of His contemporaries, that was a crime deserving death. Through signs and miracles, but especially through the Resurrection, Jesus’ disciples recognized who He was and worshipped Him as Lord. This is the faith of the Church; to say nothing of the words of St Thomas who said, “My Lord and My God.”
There is a beautiful saying, ‘if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.’ Perhaps too often, we don’t take our catechism seriously. It is truly a pillar that holds the Church’s teaching in scripture and tradition. I have often greeted overzealous ‘evangelizers’ at my door who somehow only find Catholic homes to evangelize! In any case, I find it sad and sometimes am annoyed at the misrepresentation of scripture, especially from ‘The Bible that they carry’. Jesus, the second person of the blessed Trinity is God, period. With Thomas, I wish to reiterate, “My Lord and My God.”
Written on behalf of the Holy Spirit
References from the Jerome Biblical Commentary.
Fr Warner D’Souza may be contacted on whatsap on +91- 9820242151.
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