Wednesday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Is 49:8-15; Ps 145:8-9,13cd,14,17,18; Jn 5:17-30What does it mean to call upon the LORD in truth?  Anyone, who calls upon the LORD in truth, knows the truth.  Such a one knows that the LORD is gracious and merciful.  Such a one knows that whatever the LORD responds will be the best response possible.  Indeed, this is the God we know and love, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we call upon the LORD we are completely confident that not only does he hear our prayer, he answers our prayer. Today’s Psalm is a litany of praise to the LORD Our God.  The LORD is gracious and merciful; he is slow to anger because he understands us so well. He knows what we are made; he knows all our weakness.  Because of this, the LORD is so patient with our growing up, with our maturation.  Our God is never impatient; we are impatient with his patience and with our own weakness.  The LORD is good to all; he is the creator of all, in heaven and on earth.  He loves his creatures, and in all he has made, there is nothing evil.  Our sin has poisoned the world and all who live in this world, but this has not diminished his compassion.  Such tenderness is nothing less than the love that heals any and all who turn to him in even imperfect contrition.  The LORD is faithful in all his words; he never forgets the covenant.  We seem to have a memory of God’s covenant when it is convenient and self-gratifying.  We walk the way we want and we talk the talk we want others to hear.  Our God does what he says.  He is not trying to impress anyone, yet who could not be impressed with His beauty and goodness everywhere in creation?  The LORD lifts up all who are falling.  We who fall again and again knowing fully well that his mercy is only a heartbeat away.  As soon as we turn to him in our hearts, his mercy abounds; he lifts us up again and again. We don’t even have to formulate a perfect act of contrition; we don’t even have to speak words of strong resolve and repentance.  The LORD is just and holy; he is closer than our loving parents.  The LORD is so close that we can come to know him transcendent and unapproachable through the humanity of His Son, Jesus the Word Made Flesh, who is still at work among us doing the Father’s Will and transforming our broken and shattered humanity by the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit. We call upon Him in truth, in the truth that has set us free.

 During the exile Zion cried out, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.”  It is so difficult to see the time of exile as a time of favor or a day of salvation.  It is next to impossible to imagine that the LORD will restore the land and allot the desolate heritages.  Yet, he wants us to say to those imprisoned in their own fear to shout without hesitation: “Come out!  To those in darkness: Show yourselves!”  As we come out of our fear and escape our prisons, all through the process of recovery and rescue the LORD provides fresh and green pastures—even in those places we had thought were just barren heights.  All along the way, the LORD sets a banquet before us in the sight of all our foes.  A rich and sumptuous banquet with fine fillet and the choicest Cabernet he sets before us. Even the weather will be on our side; no rain to spoil our picnic.  We will be lead along the most refreshing and clean brooks.  Nothing will slow down our journey.  The highways will be cut through the mountains.  These mountains will join in the rejoicing of all who travel from north, south, east and west.  Even the heavenly bodies will join the chorus.  This prophetic vision is not some public relations fantasy.  It is our future hope and our present day strength. Even if we feel neglected and forgotten, we will be comforted and mercy will surround us.  As the LORD asked the people to whom Isaiah was preaching, so too we must respond to this question: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?”  Yes, it happens again and again in our day.  Many thousands of abortions abound in our land daily.  Yet, even if a mother should forget the precious life within her womb, our LORD says the words we have always longed to hear: “I will never forget you.”

So many of the issues raised in the Synoptic Tradition are raised here in the Gospel of Saint John. Controversy over doing good on the Sabbath and scandal over his relationship with the Father is part of today’s gospel reading from Saint John.  The Lord Jesus works on the Sabbath because his Father works on the Sabbath.  Sure the Father rested on the seventh day of creation, but this is the new day of salvation—the eighth day—the first and last day, the day of eternity breaking into history.  This work is the work of salvation.  He is not trying to win friends and influence people; the Lord Jesus is doing what he sees the Father doing.  The Father is reaching out constantly to save all men and to bring us all into his family. The Son will show the Father even greater work than his signs and wonders.  He will show him the wondrous sign of the Cross.  From the depths this unspeakable love and passion the Father will give life; lifting His Son to the heights of heaven, and he will raise us up with Christ our Lord.  To speak of such a great job is to reveal the blazing mystery of the Eternal One, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  This was too much truth for them to bear.  They were blind, and they were convinced that they could see.  In the presence of the Light from the Light they could not see or hear his witness to the truth: “I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”