March 31st, 2017: Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22; John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30.
“They tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him because his hour had not come.” This closing sentence from today’s gospel reading repeats Jesus’ words to his mother, when she told him that there was no more wine at the wedding feast in
Galilee: “My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4). When it
did come, Jesus laid down his life voluntarily.
He remained in charge. The shortest of our Eucharistic prayers, the one we use
most often on weekdays reminds us of this: “At the time he was betrayed, and entered
willingly into his Passion.”
Why did Jesus’ enemies kill him? For two reasons. First, because he healed on the Sabbath day. Second, because he made himself equal with God. When he spoke, in the Sermon on the Mount, about God’s law, he did not speak (like other rabbis) as an interpreter of the law. He spoke as the law-giver. ‘You have heard that it was said of old . . . But I say unto you …’ Like God, he forgave sins. And he acted as only God can act: in his miracles of healing, the stilling of the storm on the lake, the feeding of a vast crowd in the wilderness. Those were the things that enraged his critics.
The Church gives us today, in our first reading, the thoughts which motivated Jesus’ enemies: “His life is not like that of others … He judges us debased; he holds himself from our paths as from things impure … He boasts that God is his Father.”
As we move, on our Lenten pilgrimage, closer to Easter, we should be reflecting on all this, recalling that Jesus laid down his life for us of his own free will. Why? Jesus answered this question himself when he said: “Greater love has no one than this, that a man should lay down his life for a friend.”
Sit, or kneel, in these late Lenten days, beneath the cross of Jesus Christ, your brother, your lover, your best friend; but also your Savior, your redeemer, your Lord. Contemplate the One who hangs there –for you.
Do that, and you will make a great discovery: all the great lessons of life are learned at the foot of the cross.