Scripture readings for today
One of the great pleasures in life is to be a part of a team, to belong to a family, a club, a church. It is such an awesome experience to belong and to associate our lives with a particular purpose and mission. Sometimes our allegiance and membership to a team or group is so strong, the sensation is tangible; what an experience! And because of the strength of these associations, it is only natural to take pride in them.
It does us credit though, to reflect from time to time on whether or not we claim righteousness and superiority because of our associations. My dad used to repeat a phrase he had picked up along the way, “God has no grandchildren.” This taught me that my relationship with God was very personal, and that someday, I will stand alone before God. Jesus calls us and frees us, and one of the ways he frees us is by showing us, sometimes very slowly, who we really are before Him as individuals, not groups. This revelation is repelled by our pride, ignorance, and fear of suffering and isolation.
Jesus provides us with a path to freedom in the gospel today. He states, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (Jn 8 31-32).” The Jews hear his words and claim their allegiance to Abraham; they have never been imprisoned and are free. They are confused. Their existence as members of the Jewish nation renders them free; they have no need to be set free. Jesus counters with some very strong words.“I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you.” The troubling truth is that Jesus was addressing “those Jews who believed in him.” He was addressing the very souls who were listening to him and taking an interest in him.
It is sometimes difficult to apply the gospel to our own lives, particularly when we might be in need of repentance. We sometimes seek to kill Jesus when we cling to our own righteousness, and by merit of our pride, exclude him, repell him, and extinguish him in our lives. Our self-righteousness can utterly blind and imprison.
Consider the possibility, that Jesus is addressing you in the gospel today. Are there any attitudes or deep dispositions that Jesus is displeased with that we are taking into this Easter season? Jesus allowed himself to be stripped and placed naked on the cross. I believe this gospel invites us into a tough examination that would lay bare all that displeases our Lord.