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All or Nothing
4/5/2022 Gospel Reflection on John 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him. (John 8:21-30, NABRE)
“You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.”
When Jesus spoke this way to the Pharisees, we are told by John that “...many came to believe in him.” Following Jesus is an all-or-nothing proposition. Since He is God, there is no middle ground. One must either accept or reject this. If God is rejected, then those who reject Him will die in their sins, since they remain tied to this world. If God is accepted, then those who accept Him must abandon everything, die to this world, take up their cross, and follow Him. There is no salvation unless one accepts God and His mercy, through His Son. By their rejection of Jesus, the Pharisees remain of this world, never to be lifted up by way of Jesus. His bold speech resulted in many listeners receiving grace and believing in Him, thereby saving their souls.
Jesus came to lift us up to Heaven, to give us access to the Beatific Vision, if only we accept and follow Him. All too often, we are distracted and confused by this world, which leads us astray from our Lord’s teachings during His earthly mission. We choose to believe and follow the things we agree with or are comfortable proclaiming, while dismissing unpleasant or difficult teachings. But if we truly believe that Jesus is Lord, the embodiment of God’s Word, the loving God Himself, then we must follow all that He taught us. We might alienate society and suffer persecutions, but this is less consequential than dismissing the explicit instruction of God. Since we have united ourselves to Jesus, we are not of this world, and so the persecutions and sufferings of this world are only temporary. Our souls are eternal, and so we must orient our actions toward every Word that comes from God.
Copyright 2022 Jessica Tucker