USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week,
and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former;
for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Come, let us return to the LORD, / it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; / he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds…. / Let us know, let us strive to know the LORD; / as certain as the dawn is his coming…! / He will come to us like the rain, / like spring rain that waters the earth. (From Saturday’s first reading)
Reflection for Saturday:
How well do you really know God as your Father? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself this Lent. Let’s consider how Hosea described him in the verses above. Do you know him as Healer? Do you know him as Spring Rain nourishing your soul to bring forth new fruits?
What is a father? What does the role mean to you? Hosea wrote of the Divine Father as one who disciplines us but definitely also heals us from the pains of the discipline. Like a dad who scolds us and then hugs our tears away.
Are you able to feel God the Father’s hugs? Do you feel him wiping away your tears? Do you feel his tears mingling with your own?
Jesus said in John 14:7 that if we know Jesus, we know the Father. He said, “From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” But how can we look at the Son and see the Father? The answer is so simple, but I didn’t grasp it until Ralph and I attended an all-day workshop by Neal and Janet Lozano from Heart of the Father Ministries. I’m now reading Neal Lozano’s book, Abba’s Heart and I highly recommend it (btw, if you order it from AmazonSmile by first clicking this link to choose Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay as the charity you want to support, Amazon will donate part of the sale to GNM).
Getting back to my question: How can we look at the Son and see the Father?
The answer is not in just looking at the Son. Looking doesn’t get us anywhere. Jesus leads us on a journey to the Father’s heart. As we walk together, he says, “Look! Watch what I do. I heal the sick, multiply the food, and calm the storm. It is the Father doing it through me.” Jesus says in John 14:10-11 (NIV): “The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”
Pause for a moment and think of who Jesus is to you. Think of his compassion, his kindness toward the downcast and his love for sinners. He’s gentle, right? He goes to great lengths to help you, right? — for example, his willingness to suffer excruciating tortures and death on a cross for you. In everything he does, he shows us the Father.
The next three verses (John 14:12-14) astound me: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” In other words (are you ready for this?), because Jesus is in you and in me, you and I are supposed to be showing the Father to the world around us. We are supposed to be able to say, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” This means we are supposed to be doing miracles like Jesus did, and even greater ones! So that the Father may be glorified in the Son who is in us!
There are some places in today’s world where Christians are living the truth of John 14:12-14. Where I live, miracles are much more rare. The reasons are multi-layered, but what matters most is that God the Father is not only willing to do miracles in our lives and through us in the lives of others as we serve in the mission of Christ, he is eager to do it, because his compassion is beyond measure. It pains his parental heart to see his children suffer. When Jesus died on the cross, the Father’s heart broke. His heart breaks for you, too, when others hurt you. And his heart breaks over every soul that turns away from his love.
When we don’t experience the signs and wonders of the Father, it’s because we don’t truly know who we are as his children. For example, for six month’s I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to give me the gift of visions along with hearing a “Word of Knowledge” (supernaturally knowing something that will help). When I pray for people, I wish I could see images that tell me what the Father wants to say about it. Then last Friday, during Mass while Jesus was present in the Eucharist, as I prayed for this again, I heard Jesus say with a smile, “You already have it.”
And then on Saturday at the workshop, he proved it through an opportunity to minister to someone. A woman asked me to pray for her without telling me what to pray about. So I closed my eyes and trusted that God would pitch in to help. I saw a pathway and described it to her. She said that others who had prayed for her had seen the same thing! My confidence increased and so did the vision and knowledge about what it meant. What I saw next brought her to tears as Father God ministered to her through it.
Many reading this story have experienced such miracles often. The rest of us are victims of a culture that lies to us about who we truly are. However, as God’s children, we are victors, not victims! Jesus has set us free to be who God designed us to be. Now we have to do the work of paying attention to God’s design and overcoming all that holds us back from revealing God’s true nature to the world. We are supposed to be doing miracles like Jesus did, and even greater ones, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son who is in us.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica