WEDNESDAY AFTER PASSION SUNDAY
GOSPEL. ST. JOHN x, 22-38.
(The Divinity of Jesus and His First Word on the Cross.)
At that time: It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem: and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. The Jews therefore came round about Him, and said to Him: How long dost Thou hold our souls in suspense? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them: I speak to you and you believe not: the works that I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony of Me. But you do not believe: because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice: and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them life everlasting, and they shall not perish forever, and no man shall pluck them out of My hand. That which My Father hath given me, is greater than all: and no man can snatch them out of the hand of My Father. I and the Father are one. The Jews then took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered them: Many good works have I showed you from My Father; for which of these works do you stone Me? The Jews answered Him: For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that Thou being a man, makest Thyself God. Jesus answered them: is it not written in your law: I said, you are gods? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God was spoken, and the Scripture cannot be broken: do you say of Him, Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world: Thou blasphemeth, because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though you will not believe Me, believe the works: that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.
How clearly and distinctly Jesus reveals His divinity in this gospel. And they wish to stone Him, instead of adoring Him. He refers to His divine works which unmistakably prove His divinity. And men nail the Son of God to a cross. Now, does Jesus, on the cross, ask His heavenly Father to hurl the thunderbolts of His justice upon the deicides, to make known His divinity and to cover His enemies with everlasting shame? No, Christian soul, and this is the most glorious proof of the divinity of Jesus Christ, as soon as He is raised upon the cross, hanging between heaven and earth, He turns His eyes toward heaven and exclaims: "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." It was not without reason that He taught us, poor sinners, to say in the Lord s prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Examine yourself now, and reflect, O Christian soul, that the innocent Savior, Who was abused to the utmost, prays for His deadly enemies, excuses them, and palliates their guilt, and you? Perhaps for a long time you have borne in your heart hatred and revenge toward your fellow men whose offences may not be so grievous as you imagine; or you magnify their faults by imputing to them motives which they perhaps never entertained. Remember, as Christ s prayer on the cross for His enemies is an excellent proof of His divinity, so your love for your enemy is the proof and measure of your Christianity.
LET US PRAY.
Sanctify this fast, O God, and mercifully enlighten the hearts of Thy faithful; and to those upon whom Thou bestowest the grace of devotion, lend a merciful ear to their prayers.
O Jesus, true Son of the living God, as Thou, on the tree of the holy cross, prayed for Thy enemies, and taught us to pray to Thy heavenly Father to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us; grant us the grace that, out of love for Thee, we may always forgive, from the bottom of our hearts, all those that have done evil to us, that we may pray for them and do all the good we can for them, in imitation of Thy holy example. Amen.