Jesus vigorously defends Himself against the attacks of the Jews in Jerusalem. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Fruits of Love, Kindness, Gentleness and Generosity from the Holy Spirit so he can more perfectly love as Christ commands and by building the Virtue of Magnificence so he can perform many great works of mercy as a son of the Almighty Father. 

Liturgy

4th Week of Lent – Thursday – Jn 5:31-47

Commentary

Jesus entered Jerusalem for a Jewish feast (likely the Feast of Pentecost/Weeks) and was confronted by the Jews because He healed a cripple on the Sabbath and because He claimed to be the Son of God. Anticipating the Jews’ desire to put Him on trial, Jesus thwarts their devious plans by using their own Jewish legal tradition of establishing witnesses (Deut 19:15) for His defense.

Going beyond the minimum of two witnesses required to sustain a claim in Jewish court, Jesus provides a list of five witnesses for testimony on His behalf. John the Baptist is a powerful witness who Jesus described as a “burning and shining lamp” just like Elijah (Sir 48:1). Incredibly, after confirming John is a supremely powerful witness, Jesus mysteriously refers to His divinity by revealing He does not need the testimony of mere human beings. Jesus then points to His miraculous works as a witness in His defense. Even more stunning, Jesus points to God the Father as His witness. Leveraging the Jews’ deep reverence for Scripture, Jesus argues the Scriptures provide a powerful witness for Him. Finally, Jesus confirms the great prophet Moses actually provides a written testimony to Him (Gen 49:10; Deut 18:15-19).

Jesus condemns the Jews’ lack of true belief in God. Jesus confirms that the Jews who accuse Him, despite their supposed piety, have never heard or seen the Father, and this is the cause of their rejection of Him. Jesus condemns the Jews for their futile intellectual exercise of “searching the Scriptures.” He decries the Jews for failing to be filled with “the love of God”, and condemns their prideful desire to seek personal glory and status. Jesus laments their self-contradictory ignorance in which they claim to exalt Moses, but refuse to listen to what Moses says about Him.

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Because Jesus is the Son of God, He has Human Knowledge superior to any man. Be impressed by how Jesus uses Reason to dominate the rebellious Jews: He has a superior understanding of Jewish law; He systematically uses the Jewish legal process to irrefutably confirm His Character and Authority (argument using Ethos/Character, a part of Reason); He calls as witnesses those who cannot be denied or discredited by His accusers: God the Father, John the Baptist and Moses; He forces them to recognize His recent miracles which have caused great awe among the multitudes. 

Be loving, kind, gentle and generous

Realize: Jesus sadly laments the ignorance of the Jews who, “do not have love in…their hearts.” 

Believe: Reflect upon Charity (CCC 1822-1829).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruits of Love, Kindness, Gentleness, and Generosity so my heart is always filled with love and I am inspired to strive to more perfectly love You and every single soul. 

Perform magnificent works of mercy as a son of the Father

Realize: Just as Jesus points to His magnificent works of mercy as witness to His identity, every Catholic man must perform many magnificent works of mercy as a witness to his identity as an adopted son of the Father. 

 Believe: Reflect upon the reality of your Identity in Christ that you received in the Sacrament of Baptism (CCC 782, 1025, 1272-1274, 1279).

Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Magnificence (a part of Fortitude) so I grasp the astounding reality of my identity as Your adopted son, and zealously embrace my heroic mission to do many Works of Mercy and fulfill my duty to bring my spouse and children to become Your children in the Sacrament of Baptism.