Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent
Wisdom 2:1, 12-22. Malicious people whisper, “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man” – a prediction of the Passion of Jesus.
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30. Jesus goes up privately to Jerusalem for the feast; the crowds wonder about his role and authority.
Close To Those In Trouble
The “just one” in the first reading, persecuted and tested by the wicked, annoys others and seems to provoke this oppression because he calls himself a child of God. A similar, mysterious origin is claimed by Jesus. When his own relatives claimed to have all the facts about him, Jesus answered, “I was sent by One whom . . . you do not know. I know him because it is from him I come.” While the “just one” in the Book of Wisdom is humiliated and oppressed, “no one laid a finger on … [Jesus] because his hour had not yet come.”
At the depth of each person there is a mysterious life, not only created by God but also directed by God at each and every hour. There is an hour of peace and an hour of violence, an hour of birth and an hour of re-birth into eternity. Just as death and immortality are won-drously absorbed in God’s infinite knowledge and loving care, so also is the birth, the inner character and temperament, the sequence of life. These most essential parts of our person, these most crucial moments of our existence are all locked in the secrecy of God’s divine life. Not even we ourselves can ever properly and fully comprehend who we really are at the roots of our soul, and we will be perpetually taken by surprise even at critical moments of our lives. Shall we say, especially at these decisive crossroads will we react with undreamed of strength, wisdom and holiness?
Temptations and trials result when people and forces from outside attempt to invade this mysterious domain of God, to force us to mediocre compromises, to catch us in selfish and harmful plots, to contrive ways of misusing God’s beautiful creation against his other children, to use power and prestige for improper or self-indulgent projects, to make everyone the same by removing all signs of heroic dedication. What the Book of Wisdom recounts about temptation and persecution from the wicked can be said of enemy forces outside each of us and at times from within ourselves where these forces of evil have been lodged.
These forces cannot always be fought directly and on their own terms. We need an exceptional amount of hidden resources and personal strength. Lent provides an opportunity to contact our finest, divinely created and most mysterious self. Lent enables us to retrace our steps back to our roots. Our spirit can rest more profoundly and more continuously at the base of ourselves through the extended periods of prayer and frequent summons to penance in this holy time of the year. Fasting purifies and strengthens, removes the false values and easy traps to selfishness and sensuality. Alms-giving unites us with brothers and sisters whom we meet only in that depth of life where everyone is equally created by God as one marvelous family. Prayer takes on the patient and quiet attitude of resting with one’s beloved, who is God. It listens to the “hidden counsels of God.”
At the response after the first reading we confess: “The Lord is near to broken hearts.” Broken hearts are painful and lonely, but they also enable us to reach even more deeply into our roots, where God is very near with the loving providence of his mysterious clasp. The Lord is close to those in trouble; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves
Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all the Lord delivers him.
First Reading: Wisdom 2:1, 12-22
For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,
“Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a life comes to its end, and no one has been known to return from Hades.
“Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.
We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.
Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.
Let us test him with insult and torture, so that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”
Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them, and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hoped for the wages of holiness, nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
Gospel: John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.