Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 11, 2016 / By: Bernard Brady

Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22 and John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

It all seemed to be going so smoothly.  Now, things are getting tense.  I never understood what was so controversial about, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  And, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Yet, people are talking and taking sides.  Something is going to give and trouble is in the air.  

The readings today point to the climax of Lent.  Listen to some of the words.  From the first reading, “With revilement and torture let us put him to the test … Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”  From the second reading, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill?”

The enmity in these readings is deep.  Why are people calling for revilement, torture and death?  Why do they condemn?  The answer is complex.  In the Gospel reading, it seems that Jesus is hated or perhaps better, it seems that he is feared not so much because of what he has done, or even what he has said -- although both are important.  The hate or fear in these people arises as they realize who Jesus is.  In the Gospel, Jesus responds to this question, crying out to the crowd, “You know me and also know where I am from.”

Let’s spend a few minutes on these words.  I am going to ask you to do a couple of things.  First, read Jesus’s words out-loud:  “You know me and also know where I am from.”  Second, prepare to close your eyes and to imagine you are part of the Gospel story.  You are in the small crowd, by the temple, not far from Jesus.  You feel the tension in the crowd.  You know there is controversy about who Jesus is.  Then Jesus speaks these words and, as he looks through the crowd, his eyes fall upon you.  Close your eyes now, envision the scene and repeat Jesus’s words.
What was it like to meet Jesus’s eyes?  What did they ask of you?  How did you respond to his statement?  

The climax is coming and time is running out.  Good Friday is two weeks from today.  Some of us (I won’t mention my name) have slipped in our planned practices of prayer, fasting (including giving up things), and almsgiving.  Some of us perhaps never really got into it.  That’s OK; we can start over.  If you are one of us, please join in “rebooting” Lent today.
“You know me and also know where I am from.”  

Bernard Brady
Professor and Chair
Department of Theology