Thursday, March 15, 2018

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

(Exodus 32:7-14; John 5:31-47)

In his innovative call for evangelization, Pope Paul VI wrote of the incomparable value of sterling witness to the gospel.  “Modern man,” he said, “listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”  In today’s gospel Jesus offers witnesses to his working on God’s behalf.

Jewish authorities have been hassling Jesus for curing a paralytic on the Sabbath.  Jesus has defended the action as a work of life that God performs every day of the week.  Now he concludes his defense with three witnesses.    First, he claims that John the Baptist testified on his behalf.  John spoke of Jesus as the one on whom he saw the Spirit of God come down from heaven.  Jesus also says that Moses gave testimony to him.  He may have in mind here the passage from Deuteronomy which tells of a prophet in whose mouth God will put His very words.  Most of all, Jesus offers his own deeds as witness to his working on God’s behalf.  These deeds are not so much the great signs that he has performed but the way he does everything with love.

Jesus told Nicodemus, “’…God so loved the world that he gave His only Son.’”  This love is most tellingly shown when Jesus dies on the cross to redeem the world of sin.  That event centers history.  We have to go back to it continually to begin to appreciate its meaning.  It is what we will be doing in two short weeks.