Stations of the cross: www.passionofchrist.us
We listen as different witnesses take the stand in today’s gospel ( John 5, 31-47) to testify for Jesus.. John the Baptist, “a burning and shining lamp” speaks for him. Miracles and works of healing Jesus performed testify for him. Above all, his heavenly Father, who through an interior call draws to his son those unhindered by pride, speaks for him. Then, the scriptures, long searched by the Jews as the way to eternal life, “testify on my behalf.”
These are ways faith in Jesus comes to us now. Do we accept them? The church, like John the Baptist, points Jesus Christ out to us; are we guided by its light? His works and words and miracles are proclaimed in the scriptures; do we search into them? Our heavenly Father draws us to his son; do we pray for faith and humility to accept his grace?
We’re reminded by scholars that “the Jews” spoken of in these pas- sages of John’s Gospel are not the whole Jewish nation but those who opposed Jesus because pride and position turned them against him. Ever since, people still oppose him. In lent, the voice of the Father says once more: “listen to him.”
Mystics like Paul of the Cross knew that faith is a gift of God; we don’t get it by reason alone. It’s God’s gift. He recommended prayer, steady prayer, as a means to gain, to nourish and strengthen faith.
“Someone who left his community once wrote to Fr. Paul and signed the letter pretentiously , Archpriest, Lawyer, Theologian. Answering his letter, Fr. Paul signed himself, N.N.N., which means Paul of the Cross, who is nothing, who knows nothing, can do nothing, desires nothing in this world but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. This was his wisdom: to see with eyes of faith his own nothingness and to allow God who works within us to be born there.” (Life of Blessed Paul of the Cross, by St. Vincent Strambi, Chapter 35)
I come to you
who have given so much to me. You know “my inmost being” and “all my thoughts from afar.” I want to listen to you
and be changed by what I hear. Amen.
From now to Holy Week our gospel readings at daily Mass are mostly from the Gospel of John, which also provides us with the story of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday and many of our readings during Easter time, as we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection.
In John’s Gospel what Jesus says and does are continuing signs revealing God through his Son.
“Your son will live,” Jesus tells the government official from Capernaum, who in today’s reading has come from Galilee to plead for his son who is near death. God wants life for us and so Jesus tells the official “your son will live,” and the deadly fever leaves him, even though he is far away.
Can we see in the father who pleads for his son’s life an image of the Father who wishes life for his only Son? Jesus affirms repeatedly his union with his Father. “The Father and I are one.” “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” It’s a theme we’ll hear often in these final days of lent. Jesus trusts in his Father’s love even in death.
God is not heartless before the mystery of death, our story says. He’s not less loving than the father from Galilee pleading for his son. The Father of Jesus, our Father, never wavers; he brings life to the world through his own Son.
John’s gospel was a favorite source for St. Paul of the Cross who sees our spiritual journey in the light of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have another life before us, so we must mystically die to this one. We’re called to rest in the bosom of the Father.
“I recommend to you never to rest in the gifts or the spiritual joy such gifts God bring, but with one sweet glance of faith and love journey further to God in nakedness and poverty of spirit, losing all in him, not looking back on your suffering or on any spiritual understanding you have, but rest in naked faith and pure love on the bosom of God, completely clothed in Jesus Crucified.” (Letter 914)
O God, let me rest in you
even now, before my earthly journey’s done.
For you bring me life even in death.
May I live
through the merits of Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.