Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fifth Week of Lent: Friday

FIRST READING (Jeremiah 20:10-13)
I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! "Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" say all my familiar friends, watching for my fall. "Perhaps he will be deceived, then we can overcome him, and take our revenge on him."

But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble, they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten.

O Lord of hosts, who triest the righteous, who seest the heart and the mind, let me see thy vengeance upon them, for to thee have I committed my cause.

Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of evildoers.

GOSPEL (John 10:31-42)
At that time: The Jews took up stones again to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone me?"

The Jews answered him, "It is not for a good work that we stone you but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God."

Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, `I said, you are gods'? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and scripture cannot be broken), do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming,' because I said, `I am the Son of God'? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there he remained. And many came to him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true."

And many believed in him there.

Today's refrain from Psalm 18 gives us the theme of the readings: "In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice."

Outside our church on Sunday mornings is parked a car with vanity plates that read "YMELORD", i.e., "Why me, Lord?" This is a question that comes up in all our lives. Jeremiah suffered through rejection of his prophetic mission at the time of the exile. And the gospel relates how Jesus also is rejected by "the Jews" who are trying to stone him for blasphemy.

Jesus is threatened by those who witness his "works." And Jesus challenges his accusers to clarify over which "good work" are they charging him. Jesus' time had not yet come so he fled down the mountain to the Jordon. His passion and death would come soon but he wanted to celebrate the Passover first with his disciples. Next Friday is Good Friday in our present day liturgy so all this drama fits together.

We asked the question, "Why me, Lord?" There are many ways to respond. We can join with him in his passion and death as we realize in our lives we also have many moments of crisis when we plead for God's help. There are times of mourning when a family member dies; there are economic crises when we lose a job or even a home; there are spiritual crises of faith when we find it hard to believe in a good God who cares for us, etc.

Our scriptural texts this past week have dwelt on crises: Monday with Jesus saving the woman caught in adultery; Wednesday with Daniel refusing to worship the golden statue of Nebachadnezzar and then being thrown into the fiery furnace with his three campanions and yesterday's readings where the Jews protest that Jesus could give them eternal life.

We need to remember the comment made to Thomas in the Upper Room the week after Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who believe even though they do not see." This can also be translated to "Blessed are they who have trusted even though they do not understand!"

So "Why me , Lord?" If we truly trust the Lord we can respond "why not, Lord because blessed are we who do not understand even though we are bombarded on all sides with terrible pressures and anxieties.
(From Creighton University's Online Ministries Website)

O my God, I beseech thee, by thy loneliness,
not that thou shouldst spare me affliction,
but that thou not abandon me in it.
When I encounter affliction,
teach me to see thee in it
as my sole Comforter.
May affliction strengthen my faith,
fortify my hope,
and purify my love.
Grant me the grace to see thy hand
in my affliction,
and to desire no other comforter but thee. Amen.
St Bernadette of Lourdes (1844-1879)


Post a Comment