March 18th, 2021

The Gospel according to John (5:31-47) 

Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. “I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.  I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Opening Prayer: Lord, thank you for this opportunity to enter into your relationship with the Father. I welcome your revelations today and humbly ask that you give me the grace to know your will and act upon it.

Encountering Christ: As a young man looking for love I was once set up on a blind date.  I was very nervous but hopeful it would go well and all my efforts to impress my date would lead to something meaningful.  I was instantly smitten as she was attractive and charming.  Our double date took us to a club where things started good but started to fizzle as the night went on.  At one point it became painfully obvious that all was not well when I returned from the restroom and found my date dancing with someone else.  I guess I was looking for love in all the wrong places.

In today’s gospel Jesus is direct in saying that the people of God were not only looking in the wrong places but all together missing who John the Baptist, Holy Scripture, and God himself was leading them to.  It appears that the long-awaited messiah, who was present and, in their midst, was unrecognized.  I am not sure what was more disappointing to Jesus, that people did not believe or accept him as the Son of God, or that because of their lack of faith they were far from the Father.

What hindered the people of that time is as much a challenge for us today.  We can attend daily mass, pray often, follow many of the prescribed rituals and practices that identify us a Catholics on the outside but if we do not have the love of God in our hearts, we are a ship without a rudder.  We will chart a course that take us in circles, disoriented, without purpose or meaning.

This reminds me of John 8:19 where Jesus says: “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” The Father sent his only son so that our relationship could be restored and to offer us the inheritance of eternal life.  Yet the lack of love in one’s heart is an obstacle to that gift.

What are we doing so we do not become victims of our own indifference that can lead to an absence of love causing Jesus to say us, you know neither me nor my father.  There is still plenty of time this lent to cast an anchor, focus on the will of God, and through earnest prayer, fasting, and charity, chart a course with a rudder steeped in grace straight to the heart of Jesus and there encounter the Father who runs to meet us on our journey home.

Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to recognize your son in the many people, places, and events in our lives.  We are blessed with endless, countless opportunities to experience your love through your son whom you sent to reveal yourself in the most intimate way possible.  You held nothing back to show us how much you love us.

Action for the Day: Love is a gift not meant to be kept.  Look for an opportunity to share God’s love in a way that you are not accustomed to.  If you find it difficult, look to the giver of that gift for guidance where and how it is most needed.

Photo by Jennifer Polanco on Pexels.com

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