DAILY REFLECTION — Friday, Fourth Week in Lent 2020
(REFLECTION below, after the readings of today)
First reading, Wisdom 2:1,12-22
Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man and condemn him to a shameful death
THE godless say to themselves, with their misguided reasoning: ‘Our life is short and dreary, nor is there any relief when man’s end comes, nor is anyone known who can give release from Hades. Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing.
‘He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a son of the Lord. Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down; his way of life is not like other men’s, the paths he treads are unfamiliar.
‘In his opinion we are counterfeit; he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth; he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy
and boasts of having God for his father.
‘Let us see if what he says is true, let us observe what kind of end he himself will have. If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies.
‘Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof. Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’
This is the way they reason, but they are misled, their malice makes them blind. They do not know the hidden things of God, they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded, they can see no reward for blameless souls.
Gospel, John 7:1-2,10,25-30
They would have arrested him, but his time had not yet come
JESUS stayed in Galilee; he could not stay in Judaea, because the Jews were out to kill him. As the Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, but quite privately, without drawing attention to himself.
Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’
Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out:
‘Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him
and it was he who sent me.’
They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.
A TRUE disciple follows Christ and embraces the persecution, suffering and death of the Master — His Cross. He remains steadfast in the face of the scandal of the cross: bad things happen to good people.
He remains faithful and brave believing that there is nothing more precious for life on this earth and the next than following and carrying the scandalous Cross of Jesus. The most intensive time to practise this is Lent.
Both readings today are saturated and packed with the ungodly and godly at their extreme worst and best. Graphically the Book of Wisdom describes the ungodly. Their favourite entertainment in this “short and dreary life” is to scheme, persecute, test the godly for believing that the “final end of the virtuous as happy”. Sounds familiar?
Make no mistake. Contrary to our spiritual naivety, there is evil and there are really wicked people in the world, for Satan is well, active, successful and accomplished. He has a club, the club of the ungodly, whose members share a common craving for kicks in life, deliberately intent to be really nasty, to ridicule and test the godly, easy sport for their gentleness.
We hold membership at different degrees in this popular and prestigious club. That’s why we need Lent, and God who gives Lent every year is not a liar. Only the father of lies and his followers laugh at the necessity of Lent.
The experience of Jesus and His followers: To the degree we are truly godly so is the degree we are persecuted. This aspect of the Cross scandalizes and beats us. Each time we rise to some likeness of God and feel peace, then some horrible things happen to us. Once bitten twice shy, so we can reach a point that we avoid trying to improve preferring to remain mediocre, drifting back, idling and reluctant to embrace the full weight of the cross.
In the gospel Jesus becomes a fugitive avoiding to test the “Jews” so intent to murder Him. Such injustice! The good needs to hide, the wicked are in the open showing off their malice!
But on the Feast of the Tabernacles (to commemorate Israel’s life in the open wilderness, living in tents and being tested), Jesus appears. He is as true and steadfast as ever. He says nothing less than what he has been declaring:
“I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me.”
He is not common. He is absolutely determined to be different from all others. He has come from the Father in Heaven not from earth beneath. He will remain true, to show the true face of the Father, come what may.
Let’s ask our dear Lord for a bit of that courage to bear witness to our Father in Heaven, to dare to be different before sin and evil, and be a sign and contradiction in the world.
We ask to believe with all our heart His very words: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the cause of right; Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven!” It is a privilege to be persecuted. It is a privilege to be His disciple.
OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME, THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.