Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
We spent yesterday hearing from the Bishops of Connecticut about their experiences in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. We then heard from others about gun violence and gun control. We spent a good deal of time talking together about the challenges facing us if we speak up against violence and our experiences in our diverse communities. To voice opposition to violence is an easy thing as no one is really for it. But to stand in the face of the fear and anger that brings rise to the violence we witness in our streets and in our homes, is a whole other challenge.
Jesus speaks the truth of his relationship to God. He infuriates the religious leadership and their reaction is violence. We humans, when fear and anger rise, pick up stones or any other weapon we can find. As Jesus did, we live in a world that is wracked by violence, among people who move to weapons when surrounded by fear. And the fear is often of the other, the outsider and those who make us uncomfortable in their difference. Jesus hid himself from their violent reaction, for a time, but faced it on the cross. We are invited today to face the violence within us.
Today I ask God to help me look at my own fear. May we face the fear and our need to pick up stones. May we put down the stones and the weapons long enough to understand what we fear and why we are so angry. May we share our fears and fury with God, who understands our pain and wills to transform it. May we live honestly with our fear so that God can help us live honestly with one another today.