Fr. John Denburger, OCSO
4th Saturday of Lent
Jeremiah 11: 18 – 20; Ps 7; John 7: 40 – 53
How could Jesus hear or read the prophet Jeremiah and not have the words resonate so deeply, so uniquely in His heart? It was a prophecy about Him! “Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more.” As He progressed through His public life, His ministry, He saw and heard for Himself the antagonism, the hatred, the plotting. Because of all this Jesus spoke most pointedly and clearly of His death at the hands of others.
Then there were the discussions among the peoples, those who were honestly seeking and those who were not. The closed- minded had all the answers: “Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee. Then each went to his own house.” As they went to their houses, we can imagine that it was with a spirit of self-righteous, smug confidence.
Jesus is like us in all things but sin; therefore, His sacred humanity is not above feeling rejection, mockery, disdain, even fear – their threats were not mere bluster and He knew they would have their day. He spoke of it as “My hour.”
The culmination of all these experiences comes in Gethsemani; Jesus goes a stone’s throw from the disciples. In anguish of heart He needs to be alone. St. Luke paints a very vivid picture of this scene: “He was in such agony and He prayed so fervently that His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground…Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me, still, not My will but Yours be done.”
A verse from Psalm 18 proclaims the agony of Jesus: “The waves of death rose about me; the pains of the nether world surrounded me. In my anguish I called to the Lord and from His holy temple He heard my voice.” (Ps 18: 5, 7)
This anguish and all that accompanied it is redemptive love and every single part of it is for our sake…for the sake of all people whether they believe it or not. How incomprehensible, how passionate is His love for you, for me, for all. This is our God who desires us to spend our eternity in Him. What follows from all this? What does this mean for our lives?
The answer is very, very personal and no one can make it for you, for me! What does such love mean for me, you?
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