John 8: When Christ Repeated Himself Repeatedly

Apse of San Martin in the Cloisters
Apse and Crucifix at the Cloisters

Let’s see who really knows their gospels…

In the gospel reading at Holy Mass today, from John 8, Lord Jesus says not one, but two things that He also said on other occasions.

  1. “Where I am going you cannot come.” As we hear at Mass today, He said that to the Pharisees.  And this was the second time he had said that to them, that they could not come where he was going.

He also said the same thing to the…  Apostles, at the Last Supper.  And then He said it a second time on Holy Thursday also, to St. Peter in particular.  Let’s come back to this…

  1. “When you lift up the Son of Man…” As we hear in John 8, Christ told the Pharisees, “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will realize that I AM.”  Earlier, He had said to Nicodemus, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”  Also, later on, Lord Jesus said to the crowd, “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself.”

In John 8, Christ tells the Pharisees that they will die in their sins, since they do not believe that He and God are one.

The ultimate proof of Jesus’ divinity comes through what we call “the Paschal Mystery.”  The Romans lifted Him up on the cross to die in agony and humiliation.  Then the Father lifted Him up from the grave, and after forty days, into heaven.  The “lifting up” of which Jesus spoke three times means both:  lifting up on the cross, and lifting up from death to heavenly life.  That’s the Paschal Mystery: through death, to eternal life.

Christ told the Pharisees that they could not come where he was going.  Ditto to the Apostles.  But, with the Apostles, he added:  “but you shall follow afterward.”  Why?  Because the Apostles, feckless as they were, believed.

May the Lord give us the grace to believe—to believe in His Paschal Mystery–so we can follow after Him, too.

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