Friday, March 16, 2017

Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent

(Wisdom 2:1a.12-22; John 7:1-2,10.25-30)

Today’s readings tell of rejection.  In the first, wicked men reject one of their comrades because they take his virtue as an indictment of their vices.  The writer of Book of Wisdom did not have Jesus in mind.  But the characterization fits the conflictual relationship between over-zealous Pharisees and Jesus.  The gospel shows the inhabitants of Jerusalem rejecting the possibility of Jesus being the long-awaited Christ or Messiah.  His actions conform to what is expected of the Messiah.  Nevertheless, they dismiss the idea because they think they know his origins.

The episode indicates the challenge to early Christianity of why believe in Jesus.  After all, he did not demonstrate his authority with grand displays of power.  He certainly did not supplant the Roman rule.  One counter-argument is suggested in today’s gospel.  Although Jesus was born among common folk, he has heavenly origins which the people could not possibly see.  The first reading intimates another reason for belief.  The Jewish leadership was too proud to recognize their sins and to see in Jesus the authentic teaching of God.

We too have to ask ourselves why believe in Jesus.  We do not want to reject him nor do we want our faith based only in custom or only on the arguments that were advanced to us as children.  We should find an answer in Jesus’ self-sacrificing love.  Unlike even Socrates, he was completely innocent of all crime.  Yet he submitted himself to one of the cruelest forms of punishment ever invented.  Jesus showed himself as God by dying out of love for us.  His resurrection after three days, although not seen by the population at large, confirms for us his Lordship.