Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
"…they were trying to kill Him…"
Jesus came to our world with a living message of forgiveness, unity, and unconditional love – his life a gift from God and a challenge to contemporary folks! His preaching, teaching, signs and miracles came to be seen not as means to personal salvation but as threats to safety and status quo. The spiritual leaders of his time felt that his death was necessary for their "safety"…and "they were trying to kill Him…"
The words of today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom support the plot against Jesus: "…the wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: ‘Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the Law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways…" Jesus was a living challenge to the spiritual leaders in their wickedness.
We know that Jesus’ eventual death on the cross was not the end of his ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness, but his gateway to eternal life and salvation for humankind. As one author has stated: "Good Friday didn’t spoil the weekend…"
As disciples of Jesus "on the grow" in our Lenten journeys, we are invited to be bold in living out our faith in Jesus. Jesus encourages us to exemplary lives of charity, patience, justice, purity, prayerfulness, and respect for life in all its forms. We know evil does exist in our 21st Century world, and some unbelieving folks may ridicule and challenge us for giving flesh to our Christian beliefs. Jesus leads the way for us and supports us as we face the "consequences" of life as a 21st Century Christian…He reaches out to us from the wooden beams of His Cross on Calvary…the "Tree of Life".
May we be blessed and encouraged – even emboldened – as we are renewed in our 21st Century Christian discipleship! May these final weeks of Lent 2014 be a grace-filled experience of renewal in our prayer lives and our generous witness of love and service of our sisters and brothers.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.