A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Good News Reflection:
“Who do you think you are?” Has anyone ever said that to you? In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus was confronted with this same implied accusation of being arrogant and false. It was asked by people who did not want to accept that the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived as a non-military “love-your-enemy” preacher from a small hick town in Galilee — especially because he challenged them on so many issues.
“Who do you think you are?” is the cry of those who don’t want to believe that you are more qualified than they are to do a service for God or company or community. It’s the complaint of those who feel inadequate. It’s the challenge of those who feel challenged by what you’re doing as they desperately try to make their lives easier by getting rid of your influence.
When my daughter worked for a bookstore to earn money for college, she risked her job by secretly trashing the Satanic Bible into the garbage so she wouldn’t have to sell it. If the manager had caught her, he might have said: “Who do you think you are to throw away store property just because you don’t like the book’s content?”
What risks do you take for Christ?
My husband, Ralph, once got into trouble for teaching a Confirmation class with the textbook closed. Because the prescribed method of teaching the lesson wasn’t reaching the kids’ hearts, he closed the book and began sharing from his personal faith life and real world experiences. Afterward, he was reprimanded for not following normal procedure; the message was: “Who do you think you are to over-ride the director’s authority?” Yet his class — every student — was the only class to come back for more after Confirmation.
And there was the time when a friend and I got into trouble by praying the Rosary daily for the end of abuses at a parish. The priest who was at the center of the problems, as well as those who didn’t want to believe that a priest might actually be abusive to his staff, told us to stop praying. Of course we did not, and when a newspaper ran an article about it, with a photo of us praying, I wondered what it would do to my reputation as director of Good News Ministries.
Nothing happened to my reputation. God protected me. And the parish experienced healing under a new priest.
Whenever we earn the “who do you think you are” question, if we’re motivated by love and a concern for others and a desire to do God’s will, we are being like Jesus: Our authority comes from the Father. But be careful! As Jesus pointed out, if we glorify ourselves by defending ourselves, such glory comes to nothing. The one who glorifies us is the Father, and that’s what really counts.
The people who listen to God will know that he approves of us. Those who don’t, well, they cannot be convinced by any means.
God your Father wants to embrace you with his approval.
Lord Jesus, I ask You for the grace of not despising the gifts you have given me to serve You nor the precious gift of life with which you have blessed me. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica