26th March 2021

In Defense of the Church: World Youth Day Welcomes the Pope


Reading 1: Jer 20: 10-13 Jeremiah’s fearful reflections on the antagonism of his enemies could well be that of Jesus himself at the prospect of his own death.

Gospel: Jn 10: 31-42 Jesus’ enemies accuse him of blasphemy for claiming to be God. But his “hour” has not yet arrived, and he escapes their violence.


 Jeremiah and Jesus respond to denunciations and violence against them in two different ways. While the former implores God to take vengeance, Jesus has a completely different view. All of us will have some enemies because of what we stand for and especially because of our faith in the true God. How should we deal with such people?

What is good about the Gospel today is that Jesus uses ordinary human logic rather than faith, in answering the Jews. When they want to stone him, he says that he has always done good works, not criminal acts. They reply that they are not bothered about his works but his words, for he was claiming to be God. We notice that Jesus does not refute this. That was blasphemy according to their law, which merited capital punishment. Again, when he is put on trial, we recognize a similar bold yet humble rebuke from Jesus: “If I have said anything wrong, tell me; if not why did you strike me?” (Jn 18:23). Jesus does not suffer silently, but defends himself.

St Peter, who experienced opposition to the point of persecution, exhorts the Christians to “be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have” but adds that it should be done “with gentleness and respect” (1Pet 3:15). We must be prepared to give our defense, to make the case for faith in Christ. We need to reject the cultural pressure to keep our beliefs to ourselves, and openly share the good news of redemption through faith in Christ. The Greek word translated as “make a defense,” or “give an answer” comes from the root word apologia. This is not related to the English word “apology,” where one expresses regret or remorse. Rather, the term means a justification, or an “answer back,” or a reason. This is the source of the terms “apologetics” and “apologist” which refer to a rational defense of the Christian faith.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 18: 2-7 In my anguish, I called to the Lord, and he heard me.

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