"…Where I am going you cannot come…but you will die in your sin."
Most of us have all heard the expression, "You have nobody to blame but yourself." You’ve probably used it, I have. And while that axiom is true in many ways in the natural world, it is also true in the spiritual dimension as well. When anyone dies in their sins, they have no one to blame but themselves
Jesus told the Pharisees that where he was going they could not come. The Pharisees incorrectly interpreted his words to mean that Jesus was going to commit suicide, and consequently go to hell where they, as "righteous" people could not follow. This was a case of incredible irony. Jesus would lay down his life, not by suicide, but in sacrifice, and he would thereby pass, not to hell, but to the glory of heaven where indeed the "self-righteous Pharisees" could not go because of their sins.
Jesus came to call sinners out of love for them. He was considerate of the tax collectors, lenient toward the woman taken in adultery, and merciful toward those suffering because of their sins. Yet Jesus was stern with the Pharisees, and to no one else did he address such words as, "You will die in your sins" (and he repeats this sentiment three times in today’s reading).
We "die in our sin" when we choose to be self-righteous, worldly, unbelieving and to live in darkness.
Jesus concludes today’s reading; "The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him. Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him." That’s Good News…….What about us? Are we willing to "do what is pleasing to him?"
Deacon Brian Clements is on the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.