Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
EX 32:7-14/JN 5:31-47
Today’s Old Testament reading recounts God’s anger with the Israelites after they created the Golden Calf. Only through Moses’ intervention was God persuaded to not destroy the Israelites. Similarly, the New Testament reading tells of Jesus’ frustration with our inability to recognize him for who he is – the Messiah, Son of God, and Second Person of the Trinity. I was particularly struck (and chastised) by his question, “How can you believe [that Jesus is the Messiah], since you look to each other for glory and are not concerned with the glory that comes from the one God?”
I doubt that academics are more susceptible to seeking the praise of others, rather than the commendation of God, but I am confident that we are not immune from this human folly. How often have I prioritized scholarly articles based on the prestige of the author, rather than the careful treatment of the subject? How often have I selected professional activities based on affirmation of my professional standing, rather than their potential to serve God?
Professional prestige is very important within universities. It is what determines who gets tenure, raises, and university honors. In short, it is the coin of the realm.
Yet, that coin may well distract us from what St. John Paul called our “privileged task” as a Catholic university, which is “to unite existentially . . . the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth.” The words of Jesus challenge me to ask, does my teaching and scholarship reflect my “certainty of already knowing the fount of truth”? Have I evidenced “integration between faith and life,” and “professional competence and Christian wisdom” in my classroom, scholarship, and interactions with others?
In the busyness of ordinary life, it is easy to ignore these questions. Lent, especially this Lent with our forced retreat into our homes, provides a perfect time to contemplate these questions, with a renewed commitment to seeking God’s will and pursuing those things that give glory to God.
Professor, School of Law