Jesus said to the Jews, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.
Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.
‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
‘I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.’
I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
As children grow up, most parents seek for opportunities to prepare them to lead independent lives. From the taking of first steps and the uttering of first words we try to lay the foundations for happy, self-sufficient lives. This essential part of the parenting role is easier for some than others. Some parents push their children into independence far too soon, and sometimes long before they are ready. This style of parenting often appears neglectful to those outside the immediate relationship. Some parents are at the opposite end of the parenting spectrum. These parents are forever stifling the development of their children by seeking to control every moment of their lives. The children of these parents may also come to feel neglected as they come to realize that they were never allowed to learn their mistakes in the context of a loving and open parent/child relationship.
Those who are allowed to stray and test, or even push, the boundaries of parental ‘control’ often end up describing the relationships they have with their parents as ‘friendships’. These children often come to the point of understanding and sharing the opinions and attitudes of their parents at the end of a process of independent and freely-reasoned consideration. Today’s reading ends with the ideal conclusion in this respect: I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Very few of us live our lives without having to consider whether we will ‘obey the rules’, or not. Over the last year there have been many instances when people have tried to persuade me, or even coerce me, into breaking the rules and regulations put in place to provide protection from the coronavirus. At each of those moments I have had to make a decision, will I take the soft option or will I remain resolute in doing what I know I should be doing?
Today, Jesus is urging us to flourish in the freedom and independence we were given when God created humanity, but he is also showing the way God wants us to choose. We all have the gift of free will and self-determination, within reason. But, we are all also called to be faithful and obedient to our loving Father in heaven. To be a true disciple we need to come to the realisation that God gave us freedom and independence, just as he continues to give us forgiveness and the security of his divine love. It is in this context that we should pray for the strength of faith to join Jesus in saying: I seek to do not my own will but our heavenly Father’s will as I journey through this life.