Thursday of the Fourth Week
Father of Mercy, I pause for a moment to consider your love for me. May your merciful love give me renewed hope and strength, ready to cooperate in your mission each and every day. Via Click to Pray
Entering into Prayer
Choose a way to enter into prayer from earlier in Lent or any method that you prefer.
Today's Scripture (John 5:31-47)
If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.
‘You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. I do not accept glory from human beings. But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?’
Food for thought
Have you ever been in a courtroom? Have you ever been called as a witness? What was that experience like for you? The context of today’s reading is that Jesus is accused of making himself equal to God. The Jewish authorities are seeking the death penalty. In his defence, Jesus calls several witnesses on his behalf.
Jesus points out that “Were I to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid.” In Jewish legal proceedings, a defendant’s unsupported testimony was not considered evidence, so Jesus calls other witnesses. Several witnesses were required when the death penalty was involved. Jesus calls first on John the Baptist. Jesus then points to the works that he himself does as well as to the Father, the Scriptures and Moses.
Jesus reminds his accusers of what they have seen and the witnesses they have heard. One obstacle blocking Jesus’ accusers from believing in him is their love of being honoured and praised, of receiving the approval of others. Jesus’ stresses that his honour does not lie in how others look upon him but in how his Father looks upon him.
Suggestions for Prayer
Jesus’ mention of the specific obstacles preventing people from believing in him did not apply to all Jews of his time, much less to all people of all time, nor are they a complete list of obstacles to belief. His words do, however, invite me to examine my heart. What are the obstacles to my belief in Jesus? Jesus knows us through and through. He focuses on the potential in each of us. But that potential comes to fulfilment only when we get to know him. Do I seek the approval of others too much, forgetting were my true value lies? When have I compromised my beliefs because of social pressure? St Ignatius was a wise old bird in the manner of relating with God. “Don’t rush into it” he would say. “Instead, first consider how God is looking at you.” The Spanish word is mirar which signifies a steady gaze, and it is a gaze of love, a contemplative gaze. The word “admire” is drawn from the word mirar, “to gaze.” Could it be that God actually admires me? After all, am I not his handiwork….? Such is the unity of the Father and Jesus that the work of one is the work of the other. Think about this for a moment: Jesus trusts me enough to call me into the same closeness and intimacy with God. How do I respond to that trust?
How are you going to respond today?
Just as John the Baptist prepared the way of Jesus by his testimony and by the way he lived, some people we meet make it easier for us to recognize Jesus. Who has been, or is today, a John the Baptist figure in my life? How can I be like him for others?
Image for the day
What do you see in this picture of John the Baptist?
How do figures like John the Baptist help our faith?
Do we ever point the way like he did for others?
Examen (Review of Prayer)
let me be still and at peace,
just for a few moments, in the busy-ness of my day.
Let me be attentive to where I have been and where I am headed.
And let me see where you have been present in my life today. Amen
Fr Adrian Porter SJ