We see in the Gospel today how carefully St. John emphasizes that Jesus was always in complete control of his situation. Even when he was surrounded by Jews with rocks in their hands, ready to arrest him, he escaped. It was not yet the right time. Jesus’ hour was near but had not yet come. Even though there were plots against Jesus from all sides, even from one of the Apostles, no attempt against Jesus could have succeeded unless he chose to hand himself over to them. Each person, from Judas to Pontius Pilate, acted of his own free will, yet each played a role in God’s plan. This does not remove their guilt. God used their evil intentions to accomplish our salvation. Nevertheless, they would never have been able to arrest Jesus and kill him without his permission.
God will use us for his good purposes. Our choice is not whether we will help God or hurt him. We will be part of his plan for the world; this is not our choice. Our choice is whether we will cooperate with God and be rewarded by him or fight against God and do his will in spite of ourselves. We can follow Jesus, or we can pick up stones. We can stand with Jesus at the foot of the Cross, or we can hammer in the nails. We can ask Jesus to remember us, or we can insult him. Jesus is going to die on the cross, the play is written; we must choose which part we will take.
Jesus is suffering and dying right now, when any member of the Body of Christ is suffering and dying. Members of his Body are starving right now. Members of his Body are thirsty right now. Members of his Body are lonely right now. Members of his Body are homeless right now. Members of his Body are sick right now. Members of his Body are naked right now. The poor will always be with us, that is certain, but will we be the ones who ignore the poor or the ones who serve them? Will we be like St. Francis and serve the poor with our whole lives or like the rich man who ignored Lazarus at his front door? Both roles are available. There will be heroes; there will be villains. Which role will you take? Who do you want to be?