5th Week of Lent (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St Dominic, NOLA
A mob – complete with stones – demands that Jesus defend his claim to be the Son of God. His defense: if you can't take my word for it, then look at my works – look at the good that I am doing. If my words and works are not enough. . .well, there's little hope that you will ever come to believe that I am who I say I am. For us, in 2019, coming to know and love Jesus as the Christ can be a sudden revelation – think: St Paul on the road to Damascus – or it can be a long, slow process of growing in familiarity and trust. Being 2,000 years removed from Christ's words and deeds means that we will struggle to know even a little something about Jesus. The point – the point of all of this – is not to know more about Jesus but to come to know him, personally, up close, and in a way we can never forget. The point is to love him so that we might love one another. So that we might be living witnesses to the power of God's mercy.
Jesus gives the mob demanding an answer two options: believe my word or believe my works. Taken together – his words and his works – Jesus clearly and convincingly reveals that he is the Son of God come to offer sinners his Father's boundless mercy. If we have come to believe that he is who he says he is, and if we have accepted baptism for the cleansing of our sins, then we too – by our words and works – reveal the Christ to others. One this last Friday of Lent 2019, how's your witness? We are rapidly moving toward Holy Week and Easter and we need to take account of how and how well we have taken the stand to testify to the Father's great work in our lives. If you leave this evening and find yourself confronted by a stone-wielding mob outside your home, demanding to know who this Christ-fellow is, will you bear witness? Will you – in word and deed – tell them how his sacrificial death on the cross made your salvation possible? Will you tell them that you are a new man, a new woman, remade in the perfect image and likeness of the Crucified Christ? That you have been granted an eternal inheritance, and that you confidently hope in the resurrection of the body at the end of the age? If you are not willing to bear such a witness, you might need to re-do your Lenten pilgrimage! If you are willing, then know this: “the Lord is with [you], like a mighty champion: [your] persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame. . .” Your words and works – spoken and done to bear witness to Christ – are spoken and done with Christ. He is with you – with us – always!
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