The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 8:12-20

Matters of Eternity

One of the obvious things one notices when he reads the gospels, especially John’s, is the distance between Jesus and his hearers.  Whether it be his opponents or his very own disciples, it so often seems that they are speaking past one another.  This, of course, is not Jesus’ fault; he is speaking the words of God.  But his hearers do not hear, because they cannot, and because they will not; that is, their hearts are not open to the truth, and they refuse to open them.

Carrying on the dialogue from chapter seven, Jesus now proclaims that he is the light of the world (1:4-9): The one who brings knowledge of the Father in his own words and person, who brings spiritual clarity, and moral purity.  He is the very revelation of God, just as he said to Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9).  If you desire to know God, look on Jesus.  Of course, this is lost on his hearers.  Referring to the law that requires two or more witnesses to establish the truth of a matter, they charge Jesus with bearing witness about himself, which automatically disqualifies what he says.  Jesus answers that, even so, his testimony is true, because, “I know where I came from and where I am going.”  This plays on the former controversy among the people about where the Messiah comes from and whether Jesus did or did not fit the bill (7:27-30, 40-52).  But they don’t know where Jesus comes from or where he is going.

And it’s all because they know neither him nor his Father.  Because of this, they cannot judge rightly, because they are always judging by appearances; that is, sinful human reasoning.  Their blindness prevents them from seeing the God-man shining through the flesh, and their deafness keeps them from hearing the truth of his words.  So they go on arguing and bickering with him, more concerned with scoring theological points than with matters of eternity.

And here we sit: Are we more concerned with bickering, complaining, and, thereby, hardening our own hearts, or are we concerned with eternal matters?  I can work myself up over a lot of worldly things; I can enter many theological debates; I can score a slew of political points.  But when my mind is on such things, the words of Jesus are blowing right past me.  I don’t hear them, because my mind is on earthly things.  And if I’m not listening to Jesus, I’m not listening to the Father.  And he did everything he did in order to bring me to the Father.  So let’s not waste time, but be heavenly-minded.

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