Homily April 20th, 2023

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter – Option 3 – Jn 3:31-36

In today’s readings we’re given a sort of picture before and after the Resurrection, and we see that although a lot has changed, still many things remain the same.

Chronologically, the Gospel passage is first. Although this week we’ve been hearing about Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus, today we hear from John the Baptist as he replies to his disciples’ complaints about Christ.

In this brief passage, John points out, first, how very different Christ is from all the other prophets, disciples, and teachers, and, secondly, how different the responses to Him are. Regarding the first, John says that “the one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all.” All of those who came before Christ, as holy and as good as they were, were from the earth, and their teachings were imperfect. John’s Greek is emphatic, and more literally reads, “He who is of the earth, of the earth he is, and of the earth he speaks.” Only Christ, who is God and is from heaven, brings the fullness of the truth, and speaks of the heavenly realities.

However, there are two responses to Christ: John laments that “no one receives his testimony,” meaning, that very few do so, but those who do “certify that God is trustworthy.” Literally, the words are “the one who receives his testimony has set his seal [to the fact] that God is true.” In Biblical times, seals were used to authenticate documents, to prove beyond doubt that what was contained within had the knowledge and the approval of the one who sealed it. In other words, if we really accept Christ’s testimony, His witness to God the Father’s love and faithfulness, then we must make that belief our own. It must bear fruit in our lives and in the way we live.  

In the first reading, we see that the disciples are just such believers. In the fact of threats and challenges, they refuse to back down. On the other hand, the members of the Sanhedrin are obsessed only with their good name and death, with earthly things. They charge the disciples with “want[ing] to bring this man’s blood upon us,” seemingly forgetful of the fact that they already had Christ’s blood upon them, as Matthew records (27:25). Furthermore, they are so anxious to avoid blame and guilt, that they “want to put the disciples to death.” In other words, in order to avoid being blamed for the murder of an innocent men, they are willing to murder some more innocent men in order to keep things quiet. This is the way earthly-minded people think: there are only earthly problems that need earthly solutions.

As we celebrate Easter, we are reminded of how much God loves us: as we heard yesterday, “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son,” not to condemn us, but to save us. To reject that message is to live as earthly people in an earthly existence, and “will not see life.” However, to accept it means to make it our own, to live it fully, and to embrace it entirely, in spite of the difficulties we might encounter.

We can ask ourselves: where are those areas in our lives that we refuse to make Christ’s message our own? Where do we refuse to “set our seal” on His power in our lives?

Today, let us pray, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of our Risen Lord, for the grace to set our seal upon Christ’s grace in our lives, and so serve God our Lord unreservedly.  

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