Daily Homily: John Testified To The Truth

Fourth Week of Lent, Thursday

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Exodus 32:7-14
Psalm 106:19-20, 21-22, 23
John 5:31-47

At the end of today’s Gospel Jesus affirms that Moses will accuse the Jewish people. This is because they have placed their hope in Moses and in the law given by Moses. What they do not see, however, is that Jesus perfectly fulfills what Moses wrote about him; as Moses is traditionally considered the author of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.

If we look at the book of Genesis, we see that Jesus is the New Adam, the eternal Son of God and the one who will restore the human race. He is savior promised after the fall of man (3:14). Jesus is New Abel, the just one who offers a pleasing sacrifice to God. Jesus is the New Noah, who saves humanity from the flood of death by fulfilling the will of the Father. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham, through whom all nations are blessed. Jesus is the New Isaac, the son of Abraham and the Son of God, who is sacrificed for our sins. Jesus is the New Jacob, who calls and appoints twelve men to be his apostles in order to reestablish the twelve tribes of Israel.

If we look at the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy, Jesus appears as the New Moses, chosen by God to lead the people of Israel out of the slavery of sin and death. Moses gave the people the old law; Jesus gives the people the New Law. Moses gave the people manna from heaven and water from the rock; Jesus gives himself as heavenly food and is himself the rock from which flows the water of eternal life. Moses was allowed to see God’s back (Exodus 33:23); Jesus beholds the face of God eternally. Finally, God promises to send a prophet like Moses to the people (Deut 18:15) and Jesus is that prophet.

In the first reading, Moses intercedes for the people, who had entered into a covenant with God at the foot of Mount Sinai. The people broke the covenant almost immediately by worshiping the golden calf, falsely claiming that it and not the Lord God led them out of Egypt. They exchanged the glory of God for the image of a grass-eating bullock. In his prayer of intercession, Moses recalls the covenant promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God is faithful to his promises and relents in punishing the people. God is merciful and will ultimately send his Son to redeem the people, fulfill the covenant promises made to Abraham, and lead the people on a New Exodus to the Promised Land of heaven.

Not only does Jesus refer to the testimony of Moses, he also refers to the testimony of John the Baptist. In the first chapters of the Gospel of John, this testimony is sixfold. First, John testifies that Jesus is the light of men (1:7-8). Second, John bears witness that Jesus ranks before him and identifies Jesus with the Lord (1:15). John is the messenger, the voice in the desert, who prepares the way for Jesus. Third, John points out Jesus to two of his disciples and calls him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29). This recalls the Book of Exodus and looks forward to the fulfillment of the Passover. Fourth, John testifies that the Spirit descends upon Jesus and remain with him (1:33). Jesus has been anointed by the Spirit and will in turn baptize the people with the Holy Spirit, cleansing them from their sin. Fifth, John bears witness that Jesus is the Son of God (1:34). We saw this theme in yesterday’s Gospel: as Son, Jesus accomplishes the works of the Father, giving life to those who believe in him and judging the people and their good and evil actions. Lastly, John identifies Jesus as the bridegroom (3:27-30). As the “best man”, John leads the bride to the bridegroom when the time for the wedding has come. Just as a bride prepared for her wedding with a ritual washing, so John baptizes the people and prepares them for the coming of the divine wedding. “By identifying Jesus as ‘the bridegroom’ and the Messiah, John is also leading the bride, the people of Israel, to her bridegroom” (B. Pitre, Jesus the Bridegroom, 33-34).

Jesus also refers to a third testimony, greater than those of Moses and John the Baptist, namely, the works that the Father gave the Son to accomplish. These divine works – changing water into wine, healing the official’s son, healing the paralytic, etc… – testify on behalf of Jesus that he is the Son of God and that the Father has sent him. This mission is one of revelation, redemption and recapitulation (CCC 516-518): Jesus reveals the Father and his love for mankind; he redeems the people through his blood on the Cross; and he restores man to his original vocation to share in God’s divine life. In his mission, Jesus does not seek human praise and earthly glory. Jesus seeks only to glorify the Father and bring us to share in that glory.

Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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