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Know Your Identity
Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.
Opening Prayer: Lord, as I begin these moments of prayer, reaffirm in my heart that I belong to you. I am a child of the Almighty!
- In Control: Unlike the synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of John is highly theological and loaded with symbolism intent on convincing the reader that Jesus is God. In these verses, Jesus was accused of blasphemy because he told the Jews that he and the Father are one. Blasphemy was a sin punishable by death. When they tried to stone him and arrest him, Jesus, full of divine power, simply walked away from the angry mob and back to the river Jordan to continue his work. Jesus was in full control. He knew exactly when and where his ultimate sacrifice would be made, and it was not to be this day. He had more work to do.
- Never Wavered: Christ showed by his words and actions that he was aware of who he was—the one whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world. He had been given a mission from the Father and would carry it out until his last breath. This consciousness of his divine Sonship led him to confidently and courageously stand up to attacks against his person. We received a new identity at our baptism. We became, once and for all, children of God. Having confidence in our filial relationship to God, we too can courageously face life’s obstacles. “But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name…” (John 1:12).
- Works versus Words: Christ invited the doubting Jews to look at his body of work and not what he had said. Words can often be argued with, but actions speak for themselves. It was almost as if Christ was pleading with them to acknowledge the truth of his message. Their response? They stepped forward to arrest him. Sometimes we’re called to speak out, and sometimes we’re called to act on behalf of the Gospel. Like Jesus, even when we have been completely docile to the Holy Spirit, the souls we’re trying to reach, of their own free will, may reject us and the mission we attempt to fulfill.
Conversing with Christ: I will face many difficulties in the living of my faith. When I experience struggles, help me to look back on what you have done for me. You make me who I am. I am your beloved child. I am resistant to all obstacles when I remember this.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Lord’s Prayer five times throughout the day, focusing on the first words, “Our Father.”
For Further Reflection: Divine Filiation: That identification begins in the sacrament of baptism, the doorway to the Christian’s path. But in baptism, divine filiation is not conferred upon us as life is upon a newborn. It must grow more and more under the impulse of the light of the Paraclete according to the divine disposition and with the man’s correspondence to grace. Christ himself accompanies his disciple along the way. It is for this reason that he remains in the Eucharist as food so that his disciples can participate ever more fully in his divine Sonship. Jesus in the Eucharist is for everyone the Way that leads to our heavenly home; he becomes our Viaticum, the path that leads progressively to our complete identification with him—provided that we try to receive him with the proper dispositions. At the end there awaits us the face-to-face vision of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Bishop Javier Echevarría, Prelate of Opus Dei, February 3, 2006).
Father Joshua West is a Legionary of Christ priest serving as chaplain at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.