Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Then the Pharisees said to him, “You are testifying on your own behalf; your testimony is not valid.” Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid because I know where I have come from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by human standards; I judge no one. Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is valid; for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. In your law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is valid. I testify on my own behalf, and the Father who sent me testifies on my behalf.” Then they said to him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
The Gospel According to Saint John 8:12-29
My strong sense of justice sometimes becomes disordered because of my prideful hubris. It’s a besetting sin that provides many lessons for me to learn the virtue of humility–mea culpa! The Sacred Scripture is a syllabus of sorts for transformation in the virtues. I’m a willing student but often feel like I’m failing the course. Do you ever feel that way, friend?
Jesus had a perfect sense of justice; we could say Jesus is Justice. So whenever I read passages such as today’s gospel reading, I lean in a little closer to listen to The Teacher as he shows me a more excellent way to live. It just so happened that today is also when we recall the Joyful Mysteries where we visualize, through Mary’s eyes, the wonder of the Incarnation of Jesus. The last mystery we recall in today’s rosary is Jesus in The Temple. Joseph and Mary had “lost” Jesus on the way back home to Nazareth after the Passover in Jerusalem. They found him after three days, sitting in the Temple. St. Luke 2:48-51 puts it this way:
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
Mary and Joseph let him know what he had put them through and Jesus replies:
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
As I prayed with that mystery, the Teacher asked me a question. Why do you suppose I reveal my understanding to these particular teachers of the Law? It was early morning, I was barely awake, and it was too much to ponder. But the Teacher wasn’t done teaching. A bit later, with my coffee in my mug and the incense burning, I opened The Daily Liturgy. As I read the gospel reading, the Teacher was still there; he didn’t mind the interruption, he wasn’t done teaching for the day.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Oh, Jesus! As I see the sun just now rising above the trees, I am grateful that you never stop shining, even when I’ve “rotated” away from your light. Help me to remain oriented to your light, especially when my disordered pride makes me think I have just the right insight into other people’s behavior that they need to hear–mea culpa!
Jesus is in the same Temple again; the Pharisees–teachers, probably some of the same teachers from decades earlier argue with Jesus after he made the above declaration. Their disordered pride was getting in the way of their ability to understand The Teacher. Oh, Jesus! Forgive me for thinking my way of thinking is how you see things. There is no way I can fathom the depth and breadth of your wisdom; what’s that you say to me?
“You know neither me, nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” I stand up in protest. Oh, Jesus! How can that be? I am convinced you are the Son of God; surely, I’m thinking correctly. But you say, I am Love. I am not like love. I am Love. You must learn to love me more and love your big fat ego less. Only then will you understand. When you speak words motivated by your disordered pride, you are speaking out of turn. He looks at me with gentle eyes, and I sit down.
He spoke these words while he was teaching in the treasury of the temple, but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. Is this the lesson for me today, Jesus? That even though you were God incarnate–Perfect Wisdom–you allow the errant teachers to remain convinced of their errant teaching. Rather than striking the verbal blow that would knock them to their knees, you walk away because your hour had not yet come.
That subordinate clause, “because,” gets me to wondering if I have missed something from the lesson. Ah, yes. You are the Cause; the beginning and the end. You are the Incarnate God that began a discussion with the errant teachers of your Law when you were just a child. I suppose you could have knocked them to their knees then, but the time you chose to reveal your Divinity had not yet come. Jesus, forgive me! Forgive my ego-centered attitude toward others. Forgive me for not listening to you–all those times in my past when the words of my mouth came out like knives to slyly pierce the one in front of me–mea culpa!
You, Lord, are the Cause of my life. In you, I have my beginning and end. Through you I receive Wisdom that leads to understanding, that leads me to keep my big fat mouth closed. Humble me into Love–genuine and pure–self-giving love that seeks to understand the other rather than to conquer the other.
In the name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, it is now, and ever shall be, world without end.