Wednesday of the Fourth Week

Mosaic of Christ from Hagia Sophia

Daily Offering

Jesus, may my life today be drawn from you, the Vine: may I live and love as you would wish.     Tom Shufflebotham SJ

Entering into prayer

Choose a way to enter into prayer from earlier in Lent or any method that you prefer.

Today's Scripture (John 5:17-30)

But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is still working, and I also am working.’ For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God.

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomsoever he wishes. The Father judges no one but has given all judgement to the Son, so that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. Anyone who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgement, but has passed from death to life.

‘Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

‘I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgement is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Food for thought

Jesus’ relationship to God was threatening to those who saw God differently. Jesus carries out works on the Sabbath and speaks of God as a loving father with whom he relates closely, confidently. He says to those who accuse him of making himself equal to God “My Father goes on working, and so do I.”

Jesus says: “the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing.” In the society of the time, sons normally took up the work of their fathers, whether it was farming or fishing, carpentry or another trade. There were no trade schools. The only way a son could learn how to carry on his father’s work was by observing what he did and imitating him. Similarly, Jesus the Son “can do only what he sees the Father doing.” Jesus does not act independently. Jesus sees his Father as no one else can and knows what he is doing. Jesus does only what his Father does and in today’s reading he spells this out with a number of statements that begin with the word “for.” Look out for them. What do they tell you about the relationship of Jesus and the Father?

Whatever his Father is doing, Jesus is likewise doing. There is a difference, though, between any son imitating his father and Jesus doing what his Father is doing. While a son may observe his father and then imitate his actions, Jesus and his Father are so intimately united to each other that they act simultaneously in what they do. The Father acts through his Son; the works of the Son are the work of his Father. Jesus goes on to say that he will show works “that will astonish you” and that he has come to bring us “from death to life.”

Suggestions for prayer

Notice Jesus’ striking statement “My Father goes on working, and so do I.” God is present among us now; can you sense His presence in your life today? Have there been times in your life, perhaps on this Lenten journey so far, when God has astonished you? 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?

At the end of today’s reading Jesus says: “My aim is to do not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” As Holy Week approaches, we are reminded of Jesus’ prayer in the garden to his Father: “Not my will, but yours be done.” Can I share in that prayer, by praying the Our Father and reflecting particularly on the words “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven.”

Image for the day

Mosaic of Christ from Hagia Sophia

  • Do you identify with this image of Jesus, or do you see him in a different way?
  • Talk to Jesus about that. Perhaps spend a few moments contemplating Jesus as you see him.

Examen (review of prayer)

Sit or stand and let God look at you. Breathe in God’s love. Breathe out into God how you are right now. Ask for God’s light as you look over the day. What makes you glad? Breathe it in.

What makes you sad? Let yourself feel it. Do not be afraid. Breathe in God’s love. What do you need to help you? Let God know.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, Amen.                                       

Stephen Hoyland

Going Deeper

Read more about John's Gospel