Click the arrow below to hear a member of the Assumption community read today’s Gospel.
Stone drop moment
Sometimes, I find an idea for a homily while I am preparing my classes. I am so lucky. I kill two birds with one stone! In Book II of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle talks about virtues. For him, we acquire a moral virtue by repeating an action to make it habitual. A moral virtue is not contrary to nature, but neither is it not implanted in us by nature. As a matter of fact, we cannot change the nature of things. For example, a stone that has been thrown has, by nature, a downward movement. We cannot make it habituated to moving upward by throwing it several times in the air.
A stone and its nature
The image of the stone and its nature helps me to understand today’s Gospel better. Chapter 8 of John started with the story of a woman who was caught in adultery. The scribes and the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus. They brought her to him and asked him if she should be stoned. Today’s Gospel is the last part of chapter 8. The image of a stone returns. Jesus told the Jews, “before Abraham came to be, I am.” At that, “they picked up stones to throw at him.”
Jesus and his identity
Between these two moments, Jesus taught people in the temple area. He told them that he was the light of the world. He also affirmed his relationship with the Father. He was with the Father and the Father was with him. The Father testified his witness and glorified him. Essentially, Jesus’ teaching turned around the question of his identity.
The stone and Jesus’ destiny
And so, Jesus’ identity was revealed between two stone moments. The first time, a sinful woman was involved. The second time, a holy man. But ultimately, in both cases, Jesus’ life itself was at stake. The first time, Jesus could have been stoned if he had not known how to answer the Pharisees. The second time, he could have been stoned if he had not gone out of the temple area.
This comparison shows us how difficult it is to express our profound identity. We bear the divine image in a human body. We let the power of God’s breath blow through our vulnerability. We lift up our eyes toward the heavens while standing on earth. We are the children of God who live in a city of men. Like Jesus, we are to show who we really are through the stone moments in our lives, through our times of crisis. Like Jesus, we can express our identity only if we maintain our relationship with God. Jesus is truly human and truly divine. Through him, we become fully human and fully divine.
Prayer: Lord, help us to affirm our identity through our times of crises.
Solution: Think about what I should do in a stone drop moment?