Homily for March 18th, 2016: John 10:31-42.
“The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus,’ The gospel today starts where yesterday’s gospel ended: with Jesus’ critics throwing stones at him. As we saw yesterday, that was commanded in the book Leviticus as the punishment for blasphemy (24:16).
Whenever critics accuse him of blasphemy for making himself equal to God, Jesus responds by saying, I have not made myself anything. It is God our Father who has made me who I am. Jesus says in today’s gospel “that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
John’s gospel starts with that claim: “In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God’s presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning” (John 1:1). Words are used to communicate. Since we cannot see God, he sends us his Son, God clothed in human flesh, to show us what God is like.
When we listen to Jesus, we hear God speaking to us. When we look at Jesus, we see what God is like. What do we see when we look at Jesus? We see that he preferred simple, ordinary people. He came to the world in a provincial village where nothing interesting or important ever happened. Jesus moved not among wealthy or sophisticated people, or among scholars and intellectuals, but among ordinary people.
Jesus was of the earth, earthy. In his youth he worked with his hands in the carpenter’s shop. His teaching was full of references to simple things: the birds of the air, the wind and the raging waves, the lilies of the field, the vine, the lost sheep, the woman searching for her one lost coin, leavening dough with yeast, the thief breaking in at night.
In preferring simple people and simple things, Jesus was showing us what God is like. He who is God’s word, God’s personal communication to us, is saying that God loves humble people. In his earthiness Jesus shows us God’s love for this world and everything in it.
Often we think of God and religion as concerned only with some higher, spiritual realm. That is wrong! God loves the earth and the things of earth. He must love them, because he made them. And God does not make anything that is not lovable. God made each of us, using our parents as his agents. And he loves us with a love that will never let us go.