Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Wis 2:1a,12-22; Ps 34:17-21,23; Jn 7:1-2,10,25-30:  When the LORD confronts the evildoers something changes, drastically.  Sometimes the evildoers become more resolute.  They inflict even more suffering.  They feel the challenge and come through with greater afflictions. At other times the evildoers wake up and begin to move on.  Perhaps the memory of them is wiped from the face of the earth.  This is what the psalm proclaims.  This is what happens when the LORD confronts the evildoers with his compassion for the just.  When the just cry out the LORD responds with exactly what is needed to endure the suffering or overcome the agony.  The LORD rescues us.  When we are brokenhearted, the LORD is close to comfort.  When we are crushed in spirit he is near to save.  Indeed there are many trials and temptations that come our way.  It is in this very crucible that we are delivered, rescued, saved.  The LORD watches over the very bones of his Son Jesus. Indeed, the Lord Jesus is The Just Man, and not one of his bones is broken.  The LORD raised and transfigured his bleeding and bruised Son Jesus.  In the resurrection of the criminal Christ, the Father reveals total innocence.  As the book of Wisdom foretold the wicked just didn’t get it. They had no idea that the Father would recompense the holiness of his Son.  They did not expect the Father to reward his Son who was executed as a criminal. They were blind in their wickedness. The authorities in Jerusalem were likewise blind to Christ when he came, and he spoke openly and no one tried to stop him.  Until his hour had come, he was unstoppable.  When his hour had come, he was available to be crushed and poured out so that all our suffering would be transformed into glory.

The Lord Jesus boasted that God is his Father, but this is not all.  The Lord also claimed that his Father is our Father.  Now, this is not easy for the wicked.  They don’t want any father or mother or authority over them. Their motto is “non servorum”.  “I will not serve” is the first and last thing out of their mouths.  They are their own gods; their every desire is a divine mandate.  To serve is to be weak and oppressed, and they want to be strong and free.  The wicked, thinking not aright, abhor opposition, challenges, and confrontations. The very presence of the Just One is too much for them to endure.  The only reasonable response to Christ, and those who follow him in Spirit and Truth is to revile, torture, and kill.  With this kind of suffering and death, the Just will be put to the test.  With this kind of cruelty and torture, the Just will be tried.  With this kind of rejection and ridicule, the Just will reveal just how gentle, kind and patient they really are.  There’s the rub.  The wicked are so blind that they do not see that the entire mystery of suffering ultimately reveals the love of God.  They have no idea that true gentleness, real kindness, and infinite patience comes from the LORD who reveals himself in the lives of his just ones, his very own sons and daughters.

How can Jesus travel incognito?  How could he go up to the feast not openly but as it were in secret?  Even in the Synoptic Tradition, the Lord Jesus has to avoid the cities because his reputation attracts a large crowd.  This miracle worker and authoritative teacher cannot not be noticed.  He goes to the temple area and begins to interact with the crowd.   How does he expect to remain “in secret”?  Everyone seems to know him and where he is from. However, when the Christ comes the tradition has it that “without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.”  According to the Letter to the Hebrews, this was the expectation of the Jewish people.  His human family was to be insignificant like Melchizedek of old.  So, the Lord Jesus engages the temple crowd in a debate about their so-called knowledge of him and his origins.  What is missing in their speculation about this Jesus is that He did not come on his own.  He is the Sent One.  The One who sent him is sadly unknown by this crowd.  This challenge to their authority and self-importance was altogether too much. They tried to arrest him. However, it was not yet his hour and they were powerless.  The wicked are not victorious, not ultimately.  Even when it is the hour of their seeming triumph, it does not last long. No more than three days.