Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22
John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Usually when it comes time to sit with the readings of the day the Church is sailing along in rough or more or less calm seas with the steady hand of the successor of Peter at the helm. But unless white smoke has come from the Sistine Chapel we are still waiting and praying. March 15th is, or would be, the fourth day of the Conclave to elect the 266th bishop of Rome. So as your read this I don’t know if we are still praying in hope, or rejoicing with the announcement of "Habemus Papam!" Either way the readings for this Friday in Lent are a sober reminder of the opposition and hatred that Jesus faced in his ministry. His enemies would finally succeed in killing him on Good Friday. Maybe the readings also give us a sense of the opposition and hatred that the Church and its leader face from those who do not walk in the light.
The Book of Wisdom sets the scene as the just man is reviled by the wicked. Their hatred culminates in a plot to kill him and condemn him to a shameful death. But the wicked do not take into account that God has the final say and will reward the just man for his faithfulness. Implied is that the wicked do not see their own eventual punishment. For men and women of faith we must always remind ourselves to take the long view. Evil can appear to win, but appearances are deceiving. When time runs out in this world everyone faces the Lord God who will judge them justly.
The "just man" is a type for Jesus. In the gospel reading we see him very much aware of the plot by the leaders in Jerusalem to kill him. So prudently he is restricting his ministry to Galilee. However, as a faithful Jew, he feels in his heart a desire to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles and goes up to Jerusalem alone "in secret." There he is recognized. The whisper goes around: "Is he the Christ?" No, he can’t be, "we know where he is from." At this point Jesus takes matters into his own hands and boldly proclaims in the Temple area that he has not come on his own, but he has been sent. He affirms a special relationship with the one who sent him. At this his enemies seek to arrest him, but fail, because "his hour had not yet come." We are reminded in this scene that Jesus always stood up for the truth and wasn’t afraid to proclaim it when necessary. Can we say the same for ourselves?
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.