A guide from Patrick Fitzgerald-Lombard O.Carm
Following the thorough presentation of chapter 8 of John's Gospel, the readings for today and tomorrow are extracts forming stepping stones towards Holy Week.
Despite the apparent continuity with Thursday's reading as the Jews prepare to stone Jesus, today's reading, Jn 10,31-42, comes a couple of chapters later. It is the conclusion to the Good Shepherd discourse of chapter 10 which will be an Eastertide reading.
The setting for this controversy is now the feast of the Dedication of the Temple following the Maccebean revolt in 164 BC, better known today as Hanukkah. The Temple was the sign of God's presence among his people so Jesus' departure from the Temple, his Father's house, in 10,40 has a special significance. See Jn 2,21.
In 10,30, Jesus makes the explicit claim that he and the Father are one. It is for this statement the Jews seek to stone Jesus, yet Jesus is the living presence of the Son of God among the Jews and his works reflect his Father. It is through his works that the presence of God in Jesus is made manifest among the people. That, the Jews, meaning the leaders of the people, are unable to accept.
Across the Jordan, Jesus's works are seen as signs, leading many to believe in him.
Today's Gospel, Jn 11,45-56, now moves to the consequences of the raising of Lazarus in chapter 11, the Gospel last Sunday.
The official reaction to Jesus is spelt out, that he is a threat because the Romans may intervene. It's an attitude typical of those in power down through the ages.
The heart of this reading is the highly ironical comment by the High Priest that it is better for one man to die for the people than for all the people to be destroyed. For his disciples, and for us, that is exactly what Jesus did but with a very different understanding to that of the High Priest.
The plotting then continues as we approach the hour of Jesus (Jn 13,1).