Readings: Jeremiah 20:10-13, Ps. 18:2-7, John 10:31-42

“The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?’” (John 10:31-32)

As we get closer to Holy Week, our readings picture the pains that Jesus Christ faced in a bid to accomplish our eternal salvation. Just as Jesus was betrayed by a very close friend, Judas Iscariot, Jeremiah suffered persecution at the hands of familiar friends (that is, frenemies, people who pretend to be your friends but are not). Whether we like it or not, we would, at some point, be faced with such circumstances; what can we learn from the reactions of Jeremiah and Jesus?

1. No Matter How Good You Are, Expect Enemies: The fact that we are good and upright does not make us immune to the hatred of others. This is why Jesus said we should not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing when we give alms. We must avoid blowing our trumpet so that God alone would reward us. The truth is that no matter how good we are, people will still not appreciate us. Even more painful is that our greatest persecution often comes from the biggest beneficiaries of our goodness. If you are only concerned about gaining the applause of people, you would be disappointed. Be good, for God’s sake.

2. Forgive Them For They Know Not What They Do: In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus asked the Jews who were about to stone him: “I have shown you many good works. For which of these are you stoning me?” Jesus asked this question to help the Jews see the irrationality of their actions. It was clear that they did not know what they were doing. After having their fill of bread and fish, enjoying Jesus’ life-changing sermons witnessed countless miracles, they still couldn’t read between the lines. They did not know that God visited them in human flesh. In the same way, remember that those persecuting you today do not know what they are doing.

3. Surrender Everything to God in Prayer: In today’s first reading, Jeremiah prayed a prayer of surrender. He asks God to fight on his behalf: “O Lord of hosts, who test the righteous, who see the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause” (Jeremiah 20:12). Why must we surrender to God instead of dealing with our enemies ourselves? God is a just judge – He alone knows how best to deal with everybody. On the other hand, some of those we consider enemies today may be blessings in disguise. God may have sent them to help us or tell us the truth.

4. Sing Praises to God Irrespective of Your Pain: Jeremiah said: “Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers” (Jeremiah 20:13). Jeremiah’s singing reminds me of Paul and Silas, who had the faith to sing praises to God rather than complain while in prison. In moments of adversity, learn to praise God, surrender your adversaries to God, and trust that God can handle the situation perfectly.

5. Shake Off the Dust From Your Feet and Move Ahead: Jesus had the power to call down fire to burn down those exchanging words with Him, but he “escaped from their hands and went away across the Jordan.” Jesus did not use the power he had to fight against his enemies. In moments of adversity, do not resort to the abuse of whatever power you hold. Jesus told us to pray for the conversion rather than the death of our enemies.

6. Count Your Blessings: Moments of adversity also come with positive benefits, such as discovering our true friends or learning to become more sympathetic to the plights of others. Only a person who has experienced a painful situation can fully understand or help those going through it. If the Jews loved Jesus, would he have fulfilled his mission on earth? God will not allow us to experience adversity for fun; there can be no crown without a cross.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, in my anguish, I call to you, save me lest I perish. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 5th week of Lent. Bible Study: Jeremiah 20:10-13, Ps. 18:2-7, John 10:31-42).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu