For I hear many whispering: "Terror is all around! Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" All my close friends are watching for me to stumble. "Perhaps he can be enticed, and we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him."
But the Lord is with me like a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, and they will not prevail. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonour will never be forgotten.
O Lord of hosts, you test the righteous, you see the heart and the mind; let me see your retribution upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.
I love you, O Lord, my strength,
O Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer. (R./)
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the Lord, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies. (R./)
The breakers of death surged round about me,
the destroying floods overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me,
the snares of death overtook me. (R./)
In my distress I called upon the Lord
and cried out to my God;
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears. (R./)
When the Jews took up stones again to stone him, Jesus replied, "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?" The Jews answered, "It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God." Jesus answered, "Is it not written in your law, "I said, you are gods"? If those to whom the word of God came were called "gods," and the scripture cannot be annulled, can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, "I am God's Son"? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, "John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true." And many believed in him there.
Both Jeremiah and Jesus were hounded by former friends and even their relatives turned against them. People can change their attitudes when they feel their personal interests or security threatened. Jeremiah trusted in God who rescues the life of the poor, and Jesus devotes his energies to helping the helpless, the blind and the crippled, and returning them to a full enjoyment of life. Both Jeremiah and Jesus were condemned because they upset the conventional wisdom that cared more for ritual than for actual people. Their opponents were not bad, but were deeply misguided. They knew their laws by heart; but these had become ossified, and were no longer able to express the mercy of God.
If they are applied rigidly, the rules of religion can become like idols, venerated in place of God. They can be mis-quoted as God’s judgment upon each individual action. Religious folk sometimes find false security in fixed statutes that are unchangeable. Pope Francis has warned against this temptation. “To be ruled by Christ” he said “means always reaching out what lies ahead.” Jesus condemned a hidebound view of the commandments by comparing the legalist Pharisees to “white-washed tombs” (Matt 23:27). Jeremiah calls God the One who probes the mind and heart. The confidence of Jesus is rooted in knowing that “the Father is in me and I in him.”
The leaders bitterly opposed this claim. “You are only a man and you claim to be God,” they said. Jesus claims a unique relationship with God, so that his words have the authority of God, his Father. The fourth gospel begins with the insight that the Word who was God became flesh and lived among us. Jesus is truly God in human form. That truth is at the core of Christian faith.
Because Jesus is the revelation of God, the healings he works are the work of the Father. The will of God the Creator will always be mysterious to us, and particularly in a time of worldwide disaster such as the Covid pandemic or the dire state of our global environment. But Jesus has partially unveiled that mystery, in order to draw us into the life of God. He has revealed that God is, ultimately, mysteriously, infinite love: “God is Love.” “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” That is the mystery we celebrate in Holy Week, and it challenges all God’s children to lovingly and responsibly do our part in resolving the evils that threaten our world today.