Intention: For justice in our world, especially for all who are forgotten or excluded, abandoned or abused, persecuted or exploited, that good people everywhere will rise to their defense and come to their aid.
Today’s Gospel | John 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
A Lenten Reflection
The story of Jesus is the story of Immanuel, of “God with us.” In choosing to become human in the person of his only Son, God would live and die as one of us in the ultimate act of self-emptying and saving love. This was the Incarnation, the miracle that made possible Jesus’ redemptive work on earth. However, it is important to realize that the actual event of God becoming human was itself an act of redemption.
In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “In the Incarnation the whole human race recovers the dignity of the image of God.” This is very much at the heart of what it means for us to be redeemed. The saving revelation of the Incarnation – the reconciliation of God and humanity in the person of Jesus – was that God and we can and do dwell together within each other. This overcomes the illusion that we and God are distant from each other, that God is unapproachable and we are unworthy. God becoming human showed us ourselves as we really are: unconditionally loved and unconditionally lovable.
The season of Lent is set aside so that we might more intensely contemplate the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord. Especially, we can contemplate that Jesus reclaimed us and our lives for the Father, reaffirming the ultimate sacredness and dignity that comes with being part of God’s creation. To be redeemed is to be revealed to ourselves as children of God and as the hands and voice of his Kingdom. In the words of scholar Thomas Howard, “The Incarnation took all that properly belongs to our humanity and delivered it back to us, redeemed.”
Eternal Father, your Son came that we might hear your voice and return ourselves to you. During this holy time of Lent, fill us with the grace that will help us to change our hearts. Guide us, so that we may live with righteousness and compassion. May we turn our minds away from selfishness and stay on your path to goodness and service. Fill us with the desire to welcome your truth and to do your will. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.