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Friday, Fourth Week of Lent

March 7, 2008

Blessed Sts. Perpetua & Felicity’s Day! (look for their story in the “saints of Lent” category)

Readings:
Wisdom 2:1, 12-22 (the wicked plot to persecute the just one)
Psalm 34:17-23 “The Lord is near to broken hearts”
+John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 (Jesus’ life is at risk)

Threats pulse through our readings like a steady heartbeat.

“With revilement and torture let us put him to the test…let us condemn him to a shameful death” (Wisdom 2:19, 20). “Kill…kill…they tried to seize Him” (John 7:1, 25, 30).

Why? What has He done?

“He sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law…merely to see him is a hardship to us, because his life is not like other men’s…he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure” (Wisdom 2:12, 14, 15, 16).

This is what we can expect when we make the choice to stake our lives on Jesus, when our lives change and become more like His. “If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Even if we don’t say a word, our independence from evil (and popular opinion) will come across as a threat to those who’ve sold themselves out to their own desires.

Jesus shows us how to respond. In general, He stays out of the line of fire. “He had decided not to travel in Judea because some of the Jews were looking for a chance to kill Him” (John 7:1). He went to the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem “as if in secret and not for all to see” (John 7:10). When He has good reason, He returns to the public eye. “Isn’t this the one they want to kill? Here He is speaking in public and they don’t say a word to Him” (John 7:25-26). In everything, He depends on the Father. “I was sent by One Who has the right to send” (John 7:28). “Do not fear those deprive the body of life but cannot destroy the soul…Are not two sparrows sold for next to nothing? Yet not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent….so do not be afraid of anything. You are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows” (Matthew 10:28, 29, 31). And God protects Him. “They tried to seize Him, but no one laid a finger on Him because His hour had not yet come” (John 7:30).

God really does have everything under control, despite all appearances. “In this world you will have tribulation; but take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

While we are not to court danger (“You shall not put the Lord thy God to the test” -Matthew 4:7), neither are we to allow threats to keep us from being who God created us to be, from doing what He designed us to do. If our hour has come, then God will grant us the grace of martyrdom, of His own majestic dignity in the face of suffering and even death. If it has not, then no harm can touch us. Either way, there is a recompense of holiness, the innocent soul’s reward (see Wisdom 2:22)…and it’s worth the cost! “I consider the sufferings of the present to be as nothing compared to the glory to be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

May nothing turn us aside from the road that leads to Heaven.

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