Friday, March 20 ~ Fourth Week in the Season of Lent
Holy Gospel: John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
Meditation: What can hold us back from doing the will of God? Fear, especially the fear of death, can easily rob us of courage and the will to do what we know is right. Jesus met opposition and the threat of death with grace and determination to accomplish his Father’s will. Jesus knew that his mission, his purpose in life, would entail sacrifice and suffering and culminate with death on the cross. But that would not be the end. His “hour” would crush defeat with victory, condemnation with pardon and freedom, and death with glory and everlasting life. He willingly suffered and went to the cross for our sake, to redeem us from sin and to restore our relationship with God the Father. Saint Augustine once noted: “Our Lord had the power to lay down his life and to take it up again. But we cannot choose how long we shall live, and death comes to us even against our will. Christ, by dying, has already overcome death. Our freedom from death comes only through his death. To save us Christ had no need of us. Yet without him we can do nothing. He gave himself to us as the vine to the branches; apart from him we cannot live.”
Prayer: O God, who have prepared fitting helps for us in our weakness, grant we pray, that we may receive their healing effects with joy and reflect them in a holy way of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Despite how modern, sophisticated, or knowledgeable we may look upon or feel about ourselves, no one can be indifferent with Jesus for long. What he said and did – his signs and wonders – he did in the name of God. Jesus not only claimed to be the Messiah, God’s Anointed One. He claimed to be in a unique relationship with God and to know him as no one else did. To the Jews this was utter blasphemy. The religious authorities did all they could to put a stop to Jesus because they could not accept his claims and the demands he made. We cannot be indifferent to the claims which Jesus makes on us. We are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground. We can try to mold Jesus to our own ideas and preferences or we can allow his word to free us from our own ignorance, stubborn pride, and deception. Do you accept all that Jesus has said and done for you with faith and reverence or with disbelief and contempt? The consequences are enormous, both in this life and in eternity.
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Daily meditations and contemplations adapted from the Irish Jesuits’ Sacred Space web page and Biblical Medications for Lent
by Rev. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P.; prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of the Catholic Culture web site.