As I sat down to write my reflection for today, the image of John McCain kept coming into my mind. I have been learning more of his story as people begin to eulogize him. I am particularly taken with his having been a POW, tortured on a regular basis but refusing release until all his fellows could also be freed. He was a person of great integrity and courage, and this was reflected throughout his political career in the choices he made out of his deep convictions. In this time of political tribalism, he operated from a higher standard, truly serving his country in the causes he championed and in his stance on the issues that came before him.
I am also taken with his invitation to former presidents from both political parties to speak at his funeral. He was defeated by both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, but I don’t think that is the point. A person’s funeral can be the last chance they have to send a message to those they love. McCain loved his country, so it is to all of us that he directs his message. We would be wise to listen well.
In today’s reading from the Gospel of John, we hear about Jesus’ conflict with the religious authorities of his time. As he teaches in the temple, people are recognizing him as something special – guessing that he might be the Messiah. This is very threatening to those in power. Not only does it challenge their authority, it forces them to look at who they are, what choices they have made to get where they are, and what they have sacrificed along the way. Do they see in Jesus the pure expression of the heart of their faith? There is much of what he says that they don’t understand, but I think they do sense that his teaching is full of truth and vitality. It makes them want to kill him.
Jesus says about his message and about those who are listening to him, “Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own. Those who speak on their own seek their own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and there is nothing false in him.”
We’re all imperfect beings, so there is falseness in each of us. This makes it even more important for us to hold our own teachings and actions up to Jesus’ way of measuring things. When we speak, whose glory do we seek? When we act, who are we serving? Are those we admire people of integrity? How do we honor them?
Photo from Wikipedia: By O’Halloran, Thomas J. – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsca.03416. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6250016
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. For more information and to see some of her images, visit everydaymysteries.com.