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 German and 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 healing the hopelessly infirm, Jesus shows himself to be sent from God. By performing such acts on the Sabbath, he further reveals that a fundamentalist interpretation of the Law is not God’s plan. The Messiah, God’s anointed Son, has arrived in person. Following him, not rigorously interpreting the Law, leads to salvation. The gospel today pictures Jewish rulers, losing their authority to Jesus, 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 they are, then there is reason to stay the course. After all, Jesus promises the Kingdom of heaven to those who suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness.