There is a great deal of tension in today's gospel. At first, Jesus seems cautious, not wanting to go to Judea because the leaders of the Jews had threatened to kill him, but because it was the feast of tabernacles, he does go to Jerusalem and does not act like someone who is afraid. He "cries out" in the temple area and reminds his listeners that he is not speaking on his own, but on behalf of the one who sent him. This outburst draws more attention to Jesus and the Jewish leaders try to arrest him.
Dealing with tension is always difficult. Having learned early in life that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, we avoid tension whenever possible, and in most cases it is a wise course of action. But sometimes it is necessary to tell the unvarnished truth and to accept the consequences of our behavior.
During the Second World War, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was martyred because he could not ignore or accept the atrocities of the German government. Knowing he would probably die, he wrote to his friends and colleagues from prison. "There is not a place to which the Christian can withdraw from the world, whether it be outwardly or in the sphere of the inner life. Any attempt to escape from the world must sooner or later be paid for with a sinful surrender to the world." (1) Jesus knew this well, and the gospel of John is preparing us now for his death. Jesus cannot submit to an authority that denies God's will. Neither can we.
Today, do not hide from the gospel's demands.
Is there someone you admire greatly because of their willingness to speak truth to power?