Tuesday, March 15th – Matt Stevens
Gospel: JN 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.”
So the Jews said,
“He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
Jesus is God’s love for us. Yes, it’s that simple. But sometimes it’s the simplest things that hardest for us to digest. The Pharisees fail to not only recognize Jesus, but also God the Father. But are they even trying? Well, maybe they are. One line that has caught my attention is when Jesus says to the Pharisees, “…you will look for me.” Of course literally one can take it that this to mean that Jesus knows they will wonder what happen to his body after the resurrection and so will “look for him.” But also, maybe Jesus is recognizing that even the Pharisee (and indeed all of us) are, underneath it all, trying to search for God’s love. Even though we are of this world below, we are programed to yearn for that warmth, to seek what is true and good. St. Augustine described this yearning best when speaking to God he wrote, “My heart is restless until it rests in thee.”
But why do we so often fail to recognize God; why are we often are so spiritually restless? Well, why did the Pharisees fail to recognize God? It’s because they don’t understand the immensity of God’s love. First off they miss it in the incarnation of God in Jesus. “Yahweh, the God of our ancestors,” think the Pharisees, “is in heaven managing everything. Who is this loony blasphemy chap think he is?” If it doesn’t occur to you that we have a God who wants to be so close to us that he would take on human flesh in the person of Jesus, the Son of God, then you’ll miss the incarnation. And if doesn’t occur to you that we have a God that loves us so immensely that this Son of God would die for us, then you’ll miss the cross.
But fortunately, isn’t it true that love often awakes us; it jolts us. When I encounter selfless acts of love or mercy in my own life I constantly find myself thinking, “wow, I still can’t believe she did that. That was so kind. Why?” It’s love that quiets our hearts to where we can more clearly feel that yearning for God that permeates our being. And while the cross is a direct window into the vastness of God’s love, our day to day loving can grant others glimpses of who God is. I almost like to think of it as all of our acts of love being road signs or arrows that point to God’s love. They are approximations admittedly, but yet still very real acts of selflessness. This Lent let us not just pray, give alms and be perhaps more charitable than usual, but let’s actually share the good news of God’s love by loving people like Jesus.
Please pray with me throughout today: “Jesus, help me to love people like you do.”
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