Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily – April 7, 2022
5th Week of Lent, Thursday, Year C
Readings: Gn 17:3-9; Ps 105:4-9; Gospel Jn 8:51-59
Memorial: St. John Baptiste de la Salle, Priest
Theme: A Free Lunch
Sometimes we just cannot believe what we have heard or seen. Even though it is right there in black and white and flesh and blood, we just cannot accept that it is real or true because of our preconceived notions and thinking. It is those times when we say to ourselves, “It is too good to be true, there is no such thing as a free lunch.” and walk away.
In today’s Gospel, we read about the debate between the Jews and Jesus and Abraham. But this is only one of many debates Jesus was having with the Jews at that time. In fact, starting with
Chapter 7 and the Feast of the Tabernacles and through all of Chapter 8, Jesus debates with the Jews about who He is and why He is there.
This debate starts in John Chapter 7, verse 14, with “The First Dialog.” It then moves to the “Rivers of Living Water” and ends with the “Discussion about the Origins of the Messiah.” Chapter 8 starts with the testing of Jesus by bringing Him “The Women Caught in Adultery” and moves on to Jesus explaining that He is “The Light of the World.” Yet, the Jews still refuse to believe. Chapter 8 continues the debate with Jesus switching to something they know, God Himself. He explains that He is His “Father’s Ambassador” and that “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.”
After this last discourse, many of the Jews did come to believe, but many more did not. Finally, Chapter 8 ends with Jesus explaining the connection between Abraham and Himself. God promises Abraham to be the father of many nations and that through his lineage, starting with Isaac, the Messiah would come. Abraham saw this in God’s covenant with him and rejoiced.
Jesus finally spells it out for the Jews by saying, “before Abraham came to be, “I AM.” Jesus is the very God they claim to worship and yet again, they refuse to believe. At this, the Jews seal their fate and refuse the free lunch being offered them by Jesus. They just cannot believe what they have heard and seen, even though it is right there in front of them in black and white and flesh and blood.
Many of us in our society today, even those within our own church, still find it hard to believe Jesus’s teachings and who He is. You only have to look to those many Catholics who do not really believe that the bread and wine, after consecration and transubstantiation, actually is the body and blood, soul, and divinity of Christ Himself. Or that abortion is somehow justified because of a personal choice or the perceived health benefits it provides to women.
We can get caught up in our rigidity and societal or secular norms and forget that what we have been looking for all this time is actually right in front of us offering a free lunch, a lunch filled with eternal love and happiness. Do not let this world, or the evil one, seep into your thoughts and distort your beliefs with cunning ease about who Jesus is and the salvation He is offering through Himself and His teaching. All we have to do is accept Jesus for who He is and what He taught and believe in it.
If we live out the covenant promised by God to Abraham through Jesus, we will find our eternal joy and happiness within the glory of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen!