Readings: Jeremiah 11:18-20; Psalm 7; John 7:40-53
We are well into the second part of Lent. We have left far behind our concern with ourselves and with our efforts at repentance. The concern now is Jesus and the growing opposition to him. The first readings tell us of innocent people unjustly persecuted – Joseph, Jeremiah, Susanna, the just man of yesterday’s first reading – while the readings from Saint John's gospel show how the pressure is mounting on the leaders of the people as the questioning about the identity of Jesus grows more intense.
Today’s gospel reading ends strangely: ‘then each went to his own house’. It seems like an insignificant detail, as if it were to say ‘then they went home for their supper’. There is a contrast between the ordinariness of this return home and the significance of what they had been talking and arguing about.
One of the main questions for now is this: ‘where is Jesus’ home?’ Some prophecies said he would come from Bethlehem while others seemed to indicate that he would be a Nazarene. The gospels give reasons for believing that he comes from each of those places, Bethlehem the home in which he was born, Nazareth the home in which he grew up.
But there is a growing contrast between these ordinary senses of ‘home’ – the comfort of knowing where people come from gives us the comfort of knowing something of their identity – and a sense that the true origins of Jesus are mysterious. They are mysterious not just in the sense that historical scholarship will fail to prove things one way or the other. They are mysterious in a much more profound and transcendent sense. The true home of Jesus is the one he shares with the Eternal Father. The true origin of Jesus is his being sent from the Father. When St John says that ‘each went to his own house’ it means in the case of Jesus that he went to the Father. For the moment he does this in prayer and prayer permeates his life: he is always in the presence of his Father. As the story unfolds he will return home to the Father in the mystery of his death, resurrection, and ascension.
Jesus is more and more a stranger whom the people and their leaders try to pin down, to find out whether or not he is the messiah, whether he is the prophet who was to come. Jesus simply gets on with his work, which is to open the doors of his home to all who will become his disciples. We are being prepared for further instruction about the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the hearts of believers. If we keep his commandments and live according to his way of love, then God will dwell in us and with us. God will share His home with us, so that where the Son is, when he goes home at the end of His day, we will be there also to share the glory that was His before the world was made.