In today’s Gospel, we encounter two very different reactions to Jesus’ good works and miracles. The first was anger and indignation. These people were ready to kill Jesus right then and there for the “signs” He was performing. In this moment, faced with God Himself, they chose to see His works as blasphemy, and were well-prepared to make Him pay for it.
The second reaction, across the Jordan, was quite different from the first. Jesus’ good works and miracles were not perceived as reasons for rebuke or death, but for belief. These people chose to see His supernatural works as signs that He is who He says He is; He is the very Savior that Saint John the Baptist proclaimed Him to be.
So what made the difference? Why such disconnect? Most of these people were Jews who were raised in the same faith and knowledge of God. They’re on the same cultural playing field here. Why were their reactions to Jesus’ works so incredibly paradoxical?
The first group was unwilling to be rescued while the second group of people chose to see Jesus’ miracles as proof of God’s mercy and salvation promised throughout the Old Testament. That is the difference. A difference of heart, a difference of approach, a difference of preparation.
The second group’s hearts echoed the words of Jeremiah in the First Reading: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion . . . Sing to the LORD, praise the Lord, for he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.” Their voices joined that of the Psalmist: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.”
We have these same options today, friends. We are about to enter Holy Week, the most profound week in the entire Liturgical Year. We will recount and celebrate events that happened over 2,000 years ago in a place far away. And yet, we really aren’t that different from the people who lived then. Our choices remain the same: we can condemn, or we can believe. We can be ready to be rescued by acknowledging our absolute need for divine help. Or we can allow pride to win and refuse to be saved.
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The choice is ours. Let’s learn from the Gospel, sisters. Let’s choose to believe and to be rescued.
Olivia Spears is a middle school religion teacher turned SAHM who is married to her high school best friend. You can find out more about her here.