DAILY REFLECTION, Thursday Fourth Week in Lent 2020
(REFLECTION below, after the readings of today)
First reading, Exodus 32:7-14
Moses pleads with the Lord his God to spare Israel
THE Lord spoke to Moses, ‘Go down now, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have apostatised. They have been quick to leave the way I marked out for them; they have made themselves a calf of molten metal and have worshiped it and offered it sacrifice. “Here is your God, Israel,” they have cried “who brought you up from the land of Egypt!”’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘I can see how headstrong these people are! Leave me, now, my wrath shall blaze out against them and devour them; of you, however, I will make a great nation.’
But Moses pleaded with the Lord his God. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘why should your wrath blaze out against this people of yours whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with arm outstretched and mighty hand? Why let the Egyptians say, “Ah, it was in treachery that he brought them out, to do them to death in the mountains and wipe them off the face of the earth”?
‘Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring this disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, your servants to whom by your own self you swore and made this promise: I will make your offspring as many as the stars of heaven, and all this land which I promised I will give to your descendants, and it shall be their heritage for ever.’
So the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.
Gospel, John 5:31-47
You place your hopes on Moses but Moses will be your accuser
JESUS said to the Jews: ‘Were I to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid; but there is another witness who can speak on my behalf, and I know that his testimony is valid.
You sent messengers to John, and he gave his testimony to the truth: not that I depend on human testimony; no, it is for your salvation that I speak of this.
John was a lamp alight and shining and for a time you were content to enjoy the light that he gave.
But my testimony is greater than John’s: the works my Father has given me to carry out, these same works of mine testify that the Father has sent me.
Besides, the Father who sent me bears witness to me himself.
You have never heard his voice, you have never seen his shape, and his word finds no home in you because you do not believe in the one he has sent.
‘You study the scriptures, believing that in them you have eternal life; now these same scriptures testify to me, and yet you refuse to come to me for life!
As for human approval, this means nothing to me. Besides, I know you too well: you have no love of God in you.
I have come in the name of my Father and you refuse to accept me; if someone else comes in his own name you will accept him.
How can you believe, since you look to one another for approval and are not concerned with the approval that comes from the one God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you before the Father: you place your hopes on Moses, and Moses will be your accuser.
If you really believed him you would believe me too, since it was I that he was writing about; but if you refuse to believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say?’
DEAR brothers and sisters, yesterday, 25 March 2020, we were faced with another grim piece of news: Our nation has extended the MCO for another two weeks until the 14 April 2020. In line with this extension, the Conference of Bishops in Malaysia has also extended the Suspension of public celebrations of the liturgy and all other public activities in all churches to the 14th April 2020.
Sadly, this means that there will be no public celebration of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum, the holiest Week of the year, the Paschal festivities. Let us accept, even with gratitude, our bishops’ decision.
This is not the first time that there is a lockdown for the celebration of the Passover festivity. The Lord commanded a lockdown during Passover in Egypt when the Angel of death (plague) passed over the locked doors of the Israelites protected by the blood of the lamb on the door. Isaiah 26:20 says “Go home, my people and lock your doors! Hide yourself for a little while until the Lord’s anger has passed.”
In the meantime, our Lenten journey must continue, a journey we can only make successfully following Jesus our Way, Truth and the Life. And today’s gospel touches on Jesus the TRUTH.
When challenged by the Jews on His AUTHENTICITY, Jesus answers them and states the obvious: Truth can only be testified/confirmed by the testimony of others, not by oneself. But reading the rather long gospel passage, our mind may swirl and spin and lose track of what Jesus says about different testimonies by different people and ways.
Briefly, Jesus says that human testimonies and approvals are not reliable. His testimony comes from God the Father, the one true God who has sent Him. Along the way of His argument, Jesus puts the following to the Jews:
- The testimony of John the Baptist considered by the Jews as the “lamp alight and shining” that they were “content to enjoy the light that he gave” … But Jesus says His work is greater than that of John… because His works testify that it is the Father who has sent Him.
- The testimony of the Scriptures which the Jews believe bring eternal life… But all Scriptures testify to Jesus and yet the Jews refuse to believe in Him. Jesus does not need to accuse the Jews. Moses their greatest teacher whose teaching is in Scriptures will be their accuser.
The impossible problem of all “Jews” in believing the testimony of the One true God and Father is: They have never heard the Father’s voice, never seen His shape, and His Word finds no home in them, and they have no love of God in them, precisely because they “do not believe in the one has he sent”.
The paradox is this: It is in first believing in Jesus that we see clearly that He has been sent by the Father!!! He is the way to the Father. “He who has seen Him has seen the Father”, so said Jesus to Thomas.
Authenticity is the big question in Lent. Am I authentic and true? Am I a fake? Will people who know God through Jesus find me true? Am I an “alter Christus” (another Christ) approved and sealed by God? Or do I depend only on human approval in my claim that I am a disciple of Jesus? The medicine to heal inauthenticity is: REPENT and BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.