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Wednesday, Fourth Week of Lent

March 21, 2007

Blessed Wednesday!

Readings:
Isaiah 49:8-15 (God will provide for His people)
Psalm 145:8-18 “The Lord is kind and merciful”
+John 5:17-30 (Jesus only does His Father’s will)

How does God love us? Today’s Scriptures answer this question in
different ways. Isaiah tells us that God loves us as a rescuer, a
protector and generous provider, that His Love is merciful, comforting
and as tenderly faithful as the love of a mother for her newborn. He
sets us free, levels mountains to make a way for us to come home, and
personally shepherds us so that we have everything we need. He will
never, ever forget us or abandon us. In His Love we can be free,
secure and joyful. This Love inspires even the mountains to break forth
into joyful song.

Lest these words seem like idealistic poetry, Jesus puts this love of
God into concrete, visible actions. Part of love is self-revelation,
inviting another to get to know you personally. That’s why Jesus became
Man. It was the best way for us to get to know God. The Holy Trinity
can be compared to a school of fish (as long as we keep in mind that
every analogy has limits, and analogies for God are more limited than
most). A school of fish darts through the water in perfect unison. If
you could only see one fish in the school, you would still know what the
rest are doing because they move together. We can only see Jesus, but
we know what the rest of the Trinity is doing because the Father, Son
and Holy Spirit always act together.

The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time didn’t understand this at all. God’s
uniqueness had been emphasized so much for so long that the Reality of
the Three Persons within God was completely beyond them. Naturally
they protested when Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of God. That gave
Jesus a chance to clarify, which is what He does in today’s reading.

He’s catching flack for having healed the paralytic by the sheep pool on
the Sabbath, so He explains that what He’s doing is exactly what God the
Father is doing. God cannot be divided. Love cannot contradict love
any more than truth can contradict Truth. The Son only does what He
sees the Father doing because He and the Father are One. They are
united with a union that’s utterly beyond our comprehension; two Persons
with only one Nature. This goes way beyond “like Father, like Son”.
What both do–in unison–(and what the Holy Spirit does as well,
although He’s not mentioned here), is to love. And the love we see
expressed in Jesus’ actions is the love of the entire Trinity.

God loves just as much on the Sabbath as He does every other day. His
love heals on the Sabbath, as well as on every other day. Jesus,
fulfilling the image He had presented through the prophet Isaiah, set
the paralytic free from his bondage, clearing away the mountainous
obstacle that had kept him away from the healing he had sought for so
long. God hadn’t forgotten him through those long years of waiting, but
neither was He going to make him wait even a day longer than necessary.
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). He
very fittingly gave this man rest from his illness…on the Sabbath.

Jesus’ point in this whole discussion was to emphasize that if we reject
Him, we’re rejecting God the Father as well. We’re rejecting His love.
That’s why judgment is reserved to the Son; because our response to the
Son determines our fate. If we love Jesus, then we love the Father and
we’re receptive to the Father’s love. If we reject Jesus, we reject the
Father, and in rejecting the Father, we reject heaven.

This is also why the Church is so important. The Church is the Mystical
Body of Christ (see Ephesians 5:29-30). Jesus said to His first bishops
(the Apostles), “He who receives you receives Me: and he who receives Me
receives Him who sent Me” (Matthew 10:40). Now that Jesus has taken His
physical Body to heaven, He continues His mission of revealing Himself,
of making His love for us tangible, through His Mystical Body, the
Church. This Love, which Isaiah revealed to us as the Love that sets us
free in joy and security, comes to us through His Church!

May we be receptive to God’s freeing, protecting, providing Love
as He lavishes it on us through His Church.

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