Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

(Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30)

In 1939 Albert Einstein signed an important letter to Franklin Roosevelt.  He told the president of the certain possibility of creating an atomic bomb by means of nuclear fission.  He also said that Germany was likely already testing uranium for this purpose.  The letter received due attention.  Roosevelt set up an advisory committee which led to the Manhattan Project.  In today’s gospel Jesus has a message for the Jews with the same urgency as Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt.

Jesus realizes that there is little time left.  He will be going back to the Father soon.  He tells the people that they must make a decision for him or they will die.  But the people hesitate because they do not know Jesus.  So he gives them a sign to look for.  When he is raised up on the cross, they will realize who he is.  Evidently the prediction of a sign has effect.  Many Jews come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah worthy of their allegiance.

We must hold onto that belief.  Next week we commemorate Jesus’ being lifted up, his crucifixion.  It is a scandalous sight in one way – a man being executed in the cruelest of ways.  Some may wonder if it was not all over then.  We, however, accept the testimony of his disciples that he rose from the dead.  And because of his resurrection we believe that we have the freedom to live righteous lives that last for eternity.