Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (10: 31-42) in which the Jewish opponents of Jesus pick up stones to stone him saying “We are not stoning you for any good work but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”Fr Paul says this scene of confrontation between Jesus and his opponents takes place at the Festival of the Dedication. This agrees with John’s theme that Jesus takes over, or centres himself in, all the festivals of Judaism: he has already taken over the Sabbath by working on the Sabbath, for only God works on the Sabbath. He has taken over the Festival of Tabernacles by claiming that he is the source of the living water which was a part of the ritual of the festival. He will take over the Passover by making it his own festival of the new covenant. So now, in this Gospel, he takes over the festival of the Dedication, saying that he is the one who was truly consecrated by the Father, not the Temple whose re-dedication was being celebrated. In both Matthew and Mark Gospels Jesus is accused of blasphemy for accepting the title of ‘Son of God’. Similarly, in John’s gospel Jesus is accused of calling himself ‘Son of God’ and claiming the divine title and is charged with blasphemy for so doing. In either case the Gospel writers are telling us that the crunch-point of the accusations against Jesus, the real reason for his condemnation, is his claim to be divine. It is not a matter of disputes over observance of the Law, not yet even the disturbance of the Temple, but it is his claim that he is divine. In closing, Fr Paul asks us to consider today’s Gospel question – do I believe in the divinity of Jesus?.
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