John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
The Feast of Tabernacles
Robert Louis Stevenson says: “Keep your fears to yourself; share your courage with others.”
Two week from now we will celebrate Good Friday by which we will enter into the fulfilment of this Lenten season.
In today’s gospel Jesus, again, goes up to the Holy City of Jerusalem. It is because Jerusalem is also the right place for His message and there He finds the elite of Israel. Besides, it is also the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles).
The Feast of the Booths is one of the three major feasts of the Jews. The other two are Passover and Yom Kippur. This feast commemorates the desert wandering of the Jews after their Exodus from Egypt and as they journeyed towards the Promised Land. This is usually celebrated in booths, in Hebrew it is called Succoth. This is a very popular feast and many times the occasions also of national uprisings against the Roman government. And maybe this is one of the reasons, besides the wicked plot against Him, why Jesus goes to Jerusalem in secret, in order not to provoke violent reaction coming from the people. Another reason why He goes in private can be, not because He is afraid but because He is doing what He is sent to do. He is journeying toward the hour of the complete fulfilment of His mission.
And upon His arrival some of the people recognize Him and they ask whether this is the man the officials want to kill. They think that they know who Jesus is because they know His human origins. They don’t believe that He is the Messiah. It is because it is their belief that when the Messiah comes, nobody will know his origins. His coming is shrouded in mystery. The Messiah will remain hidden until the prophet Elijah comes to point Him out to the people. Jesus is also coming from Nazareth. The people in Jerusalem think that Jesus cannot be the Messiah because, as Nathanael puts it, nothing good from Nazareth (John 1:46).
But Jesus knows more than them of His origin. Jesus declares that His real origin is the Father who has sent Him. He alone knows God because He alone has been sent by God. He declares to them with courage in spite of the increasing hostility to His message and mission, rejection, verbal harassment and even death threats. Jesus does not let His fear conquer Him. He takes risks because of His love of the Father and the Father is with Him.
Why should we not be afraid? It is because we have been redeemed by God. The late Pope John Paul II (Crossing the Threshold of Hope no. 219) said: The power of Christ’s cross and resurrection is greater than any evil which man could or should fear.” It was he too who told us not to fear. It is because he has his eyes fixed on Christ and this is the source of his strength and courage. What an example for all of us to follow! But it takes courage to do this.
Just like Jesus, we should be courageous enough to preach His word and His good news of the Kingdom to other people. It is because God’s love will help us conquer everything. God’s love can turn fear to strength. The example of Jesus teaches us to entrust our lives to divine providence. All things work for the good of those who trust in the Lord. God will always provide for the needs of his children. The only thing we need to do is simply trust and have courage.