When I read the gospel this morning (JN 5: 17-30) I was struck by the first few verses, not because of the declaration of Jesus but for the reaction of the people listening to him. Jesus was already in trouble for healing on the Sabbath for which he was being vilified, but when he said, “My Father is at work until now, and I am at work as well,” the people “were more determined to kill him because he was speaking of God as his own Father thus making himself God’s equal.”
As I pondered that small section of the text and the conclusion of detractors of Jesus, I heard in my head a line of one of the early “folk Mass” songs from the 1970’s: God is our Father, we are his sons (!); we are all one in Christ. Knowing ourselves as beloved children of God doing our best to work for God’s reign and the unity of all people in God is, or should be, the ultimate goal of life for all of us, as it was for Jesus. He came to model that way of living for us to follow.
As I think of Jesus in this situation, I feel compassion for him. Even though the conclusion they jumped to about his statement was correct (God is his own Father), their reaction of wanting to kill him was extreme. Clearly, his purpose was not to boast of privilege but rather to speak the truth of his unity with God, a mystery that we cannot understand but toward which we lean ever closer when speaking of Jesus and – may I dare to say – all of us. I am reminded of a quote that says, “We are not God but are each a seed of God…” and speaks of our responsibility to grow that seed into a flowering in God’s garden. However we imagine all of this to be true, what we do know is that the at the heart of the mystery is love.