Homilette for March 7, 2008

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

(Wisdom 2:1a.12-22; John 7:1-2.10.25-30)

Few Americans have distinguished themselves more than George C. Marshall. As Army Chief of Staff during World War II, he oversaw the Army’s build-up that saved the world from Nazi and radical Japanese tyranny. Later as Secretary of State, he introduced the foreign aid plan that rebuilt the European economy and assured American prosperity. In recognition of these efforts Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet Senator Joe McCarthy attacked Marshall as feeble, stupid, and responsible for China turning Communist!

Today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom soberly assures us that even the most righteous of people, like George Marshall, suffer persecution. Certainly the Gospel of John portrays Jesus as being so persecuted. By rehabilitating the hopelessly infirm and working other wonders, Jesus shows himself to be sent from God. By performing such acts on the Sabbath, he further reveals that the age of the Law, that prohibits Sabbath work, has ended. The Messiah or Christ, God’s anointed Son, has arrived in his person. Believing in him, not following the Law, leads to salvation. The gospel segment today pictures Jewish rulers, having their power threatened by faith in Jesus, as plotting to kill him.

When we pursue what is good, we will sometimes find our efforts criticized and our intentions misconstrued. It happened to Jesus, and, as his followers, we can expect it to happen to us. But suffering persecution is no reason to give up doing what is right. We might check our work and question our motives to assure that they are properly ordered. If so, then there is reason to stay the course. After all, Jesus promises those who suffer persecution for sake of righteousness will be awarded the Kingdom of heaven.