Intention: For all who are standing up for justice, especially those who are persecuted for their courage, that God will continue to strengthen them and that their sacrifices may bear redeeming fruit.
Today’s Gospel | John 5:31-47
Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
A Lenten Reflection
In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen is having trouble getting Alice to believe that the Queen is over 100 years old. Alice finally declares, “There’s no use trying. One can’t believe impossible things.” To this, the Queen replies, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
In John’s Gospel, Jesus takes his opponents to task over refusing to believe in him. As it happens, they are rejecting him because he does not conveniently fit into their stubborn allowances for what is and is not possible. What they believe could happen is driven by their need to control what actually does happen. They do not have the courage to take the risks that faith demands, and so they instead place their own demands on what the world can and cannot be.
Saint John of the Cross once suggested, “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” The path of discipleship often calls us to journeys that send us far outside of our comfort zones. There is no true faith that is untested faith. Lent is a good time to reflect on how much trust we really place in God’s ways, and how open we are to being challenged and surprised by his love.
Eternal Father, on this day in Lent, we pray that you bless us with the quiet humility of St. Joseph. Give us clear minds and open hearts to see you and to know you, even when you come to us in the most surprising of ways. Let us never be hardened to your presence or to the wonder of your love at work among us, so that we always will recognize you in each other and in the blessings of each day. Heal us by your Spirit and fill us with zeal for being the face of your compassion to others. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one god forever and ever. Amen.