In our first reading from the book of Wisdom, there are those who are “not thinking aright.” They plot to “beset the just one.” They say to each other, “Let us condemn him to a shameful death.” And finally, the author states, “These were their thoughts, but they erred; … and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.” Whoever these people were, they had no understanding of how God works, and they were not humble enough to know that they didn’t know.
We have a similar situation in our Gospel reading from John. Jesus decides to go to Jerusalem, even though He knows there are people plotting against Him. And when the people see Him, they ask, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? … Could the authorities have realized that he is the Messiah? But we know where he is from. When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” The people think they know how God works. They think they know who Jesus is. They may know where He is from, but they don’t know, or rather they don’t believe, Who He is from.
The challenge for us is to be humble enough to know that God does not operate the same way we do. We can’t presume that we know everything there is to know about God. We do know that God has shown His love for us in Jesus Christ, and that we are given a guide in the Holy Spirit. But we also know that God often goes beyond what the world might consider to be fair or acceptable. Thank God! So we can’t presume to judge or condemn others. We can’t say that some person or group of people (including ourselves) has been rejected or forsaken by God.
If we can accept that we are not God, but that God loves us, and the world, beyond anything we know, we can choose to follow Jesus in humility and thanksgiving. There is a certain peace that comes from letting go of trying to be God, and simply seeking to do God’s will. May God’s peace reign in our hearts!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior at St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.