“The Western post-Christian civilization has picked up the Christ without His Cross. But a Christ without a sacrifice that reconciles the world to God is a cheap, colorless, itinerant preacher who deserves to be popular for His great Sermon on the Mount, but also merits unpopularity for what He said about His Divinity on the one hand, and divorce, judgment, and hell on the other. This sentimental Christ is patched together with a thousand commonplaces, sustained sometimes by academic etymologists who cannot see the Word for the letters, or distorted beyond personal recognition by a dogmatic principle that anything which is Divine must necessarily be a myth. Without His Cross, He becomes nothing more than a sultry precursor of democracy or a humanitarian who taught brotherhood without tears.” - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: (1895 –1979: was an American bishop of the Catholic Church known for his preaching and especially his work on television and radio.)
Gospel Text: (JN 8:51-59)
Jesus said to the Jews:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death."
So the Jews said to him,
"Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
'Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.'
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?"
Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, 'He is our God.'
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad."
So the Jews said to him,
"You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM."
So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.
Who do you think you are?" Has anyone ever said that to you? In today's Gospel passage, Jesus was confronted with this same implied accusation of being arrogant and false. It was asked by people who did not want to accept that the long-awaited Messiah had finally arrived as a non-military "love-your-enemy" preacher from a small hick town in Galilee -- especially because he challenged them on so many issues.
Whenever we earn the "who do you think you are" question, if we're motivated by love and a concern for others and a desire to do God's will, we are being like Jesus: Our authority comes from the Father. But be careful! As Jesus pointed out, if we glorify ourselves by defending ourselves, such glory comes to nothing. The one who glorifies us is the Father, and that's what really counts.
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