In today’s Gospel reading, we learn that some inhabitants of Jerusalem sought to have Jesus arrested. They failed this time. Jesus’ opponents claim that the Messiah (Christ, “Anointed One”) will come from an unknown or previously undisclosed location. Such a callous response to Jesus seems to ignore passages from the prophets, such as Isaiah, which tell of a great light coming from Galilee. Perhaps these people were not aware of or learned in the Hebrew Scriptures, but I suspect that not to be the case given their concern about the Messiah.
The response from the crowd ignores what Jesus had already done and said. The Lord cries out “You know me…” Scripture does not indicate the tone in which these words were said. We do however read, by implication, that those people knew the Lord. There is a sense of familiarity, even intimate familiarity. Perhaps some of them were present when Jesus performed a sign. Perhaps they had heard Him speaking and preaching in other settings. Bottom line: it was made clear and plain to them who Jesus was. The cycle of rejection continues. Hard-heartedness makes it progressively easier to rationalize away the presence and work of God in the world.
We see the same thing happen today as in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. God answers a prayer, lifts a person up from the depths of sin and depravity to newness of eternal life, and many other things and yet the response is not to give glory to God but glory to man. To be hard-hearted is to close oneself off from the activity of God in the world. It is to turn in on the self by setting up an arbitrary set of rules by which everything, and God, must conform to be valid. It is like a fruit being progressively petrified by the sun. St. John’s Gospel shows us in vivid detail how being hard of heart ultimately results in the utter rejection of divine love. It results in cutting ourselves off from the very source of life.