“You do not want to come to me to have life”
In today’s Gospel, it is almost as if Jesus is invisible to the Jewish leaders. It is like he is telling them, “Here I am! You are looking everywhere, but what you are looking for is right in front of you! I’m here! Hello?”
Jesus’ words and works come from the Father, but his adversaries don’t recognize him. They look to the Scriptures and to Moses for answers. Though the Scriptures prefigure Jesus, the Jewish leaders are blind. Jesus is a gift, but they refuse him. They make a conscious choice to turn their hearts away from him. Jesus tells them, “You do not want to come to me to have life.” But why did the Jewish leaders refuse Jesus? We are given a clue in the first reading.
In the first reading, Moses pleads with God not to destroy the Hebrew people who, having just been saved by God via the Egyptian plagues and crossing through the Red Sea, have already begun to worship a golden calf. Even after seeing God’s great miracles firsthand, they choose to worship an idol only a short time later. Their sin blinds them from seeing God. As a result, more and more laws are given to the Hebrew people to follow as the years progress.
By the time the Jewish leaders meet Jesus in Jerusalem 1400 years later, they have become hypocritical legalists who do not care for the most vulnerable people in their community. Their hearts are hardened and they are closed off from receiving the Gospel and so they are unable to recognize Jesus.
Sin has the same effect on us today. When we sin, we turn our hearts away from God and it becomes more and more difficult for us to see him. We become blind to God working in our lives and we make it unlikely that he will choose to work through us. So what should we do?
In these times, most of us are unable to receive the Sacrament of Confession, but we should still have faith in God’s mercy and love. If you are anxious over not being able to get to Confession, then it is a sign that you may have already begun to turn your heart back to God.
Pray and talk to a priest or your spiritual director if you can. Humbly turn back toward God, ask him for forgiveness and do penance. Read the following article and listen to what Pope Francis says: Pope addresses what to do since many can’t get to Confession. As I said a few days ago, open yourself to receive God’s gifts.
Cole, Jeffrey, ed. Daily Roman Missal. 7th ed. Woodridge: Midwest Theological Forum, Inc., 2012.
Confraternity of Christian Doctrine. Saint Joseph Edition of The New American Bible. personal size ed. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 2011.
Hahn, Scott, ed. Catholic Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 2009.
Powell, Mark Allan, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. New York: HarperOne, 2011.