April 29th, 2020

Thoughts on Today's Gospel Reading

FROM TODAY’S GOSPEL READING

John 5:17

“My Father works hitherto, and I work.”

What “work” does the Father do, that the Son likewise does? Some heretics believe that the Father doesn’t work at all. They quote Genesis 2:2 where in the Septuagint it reads: “And God finished on the sixth day His works which He made and He ceased on the seventh day from all His works which He made.” They claim that once God completed the creation of the universe and of man, He simply stepped back, stepped away. They liken Him to a kind of “cosmic clockmaker” who built the clock, wound it up, and let it go. But to traditional Christians, this is simply an “argumentum ad absurdum,” and is ridiculous on its face. St. John Chrysostom offers this lovely first salvo against such foolish notions:

“If any one says, And how does the Father 'work,' who ceased on the seventh day from all His works? let him learn the manner in which He works. What then is the manner of His working? He cares for, He holds together all that has been made. Therefore when you behold the sun rising and the moon running in her path, the lakes, and fountains, and rivers, and rains, the course of nature in the seeds and in our own bodies and those of the animals, and all the rest by means of which this universe is made up, these will teach you the ceaseless working of the Father. For He makes His sun to rise upon the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45.) And again; If God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the fire (Matthew 6:30,) and speaking of the birds He said, Your Heavenly Father feeds them.” (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of John, #38).

I like to tell people that if it were not for God’s involvement in our world, our very molecules would not be held together. The truth is that throughout history, God has always been very intimately involved in the lives of His children. He is not distant. He is not unconcerned. Why? Because “God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:8-9).

The biggest example of God’s “work” for us was demonstrated when He become a man, and died on the Cross for us so that we might have eternal life. This wonderful passage is a recap of what the Apostle John wrote so powerfully in his Gospel, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).