In today’s lenten reading at Mass from John’s gospel (John 10,31-42), Jesus goes to Jerusalem for another feast, the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple. It’s a feast celebrated sometime in late November to late December, recalling the rededication of the temple after its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes in the 2nd century BC.
The Jewish feasts are signs in John’s gospel that reveal who Jesus is; they inspire his words and the miracles he does. In fact, he replaces them. On the Sabbath, (chapter 5) he heals the paralyzed man at the pool at Bethsaida. The Son will not rest from giving life as the Father never rests from giving life. On the Passover (Chapter 6), he is the true Bread from heaven, the manna that feeds multitudes. On the Feast of Tabernacles (chapter 7-9) he calls himself the light of the world and living water. On the Feast of the Dedication, he reveals himself as the true temple, the One who dwells among us and makes God’s glory known.
Once more, Jesus proclaims in today’s gospel his relationship to the Father, “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Yet, once more hostile listeners do not see the signs and accuse him of blasphemy, trying to stone him or have him arrested. But Jesus evades them and goes back across the Jordan to the place where John baptized and “many there began to believe in him.”
So many signs are given to us. We have the scriptures, the sacraments, the witness of the saints. How tragic not to follow them to the Word made flesh!
“To maintain this divine friendship, frequent the sacraments, namely confession and holy Communion. When you approach the altar do so for this one reason alone, to let your soul be melted more and more in the fire of divine love. Remember that you are dealing with the holiest action that we can perform. How could our dear Jesus have done more than to give himself to be our food! Therefore let us love him who loves us. Let us be deeply devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. In church we should tremble with reverential awe.” ( Letter 8)
Lead me on, O Lord,
Through your holy signs,
through them, let me come to you.