Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent (April 4, 2017): What are you complaining about?

Thứ Hai, 03-04-2017 | 18:13:41

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 102:2-3, 16-21
John 8:21-30

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:


A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.”
So the Jews said,
“He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

Good News Reflection:

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus makes it plainly clear that he is God. Ironically, some of the Jews to whom he was explaining himself did not get his point, despite hearing Jesus come right out and say, “I AM” — which for the Jews meant “Yahweh”, the name of God. They were deaf to the truth, because it was unexpected and/or unpleasant.

Are we deaf when a truth is difficult to accept? Yes, we all get hard of hearing sometimes.

Jesus gave the cure for the Jews’ deafness: “When you lift up the Son of Man, you will realize that I AM.”

He was referring to today’s first reading, in which we hear about the Israelites’ sin of continually complaining because they didn’t like what God was doing. They were like bratty little kids who don’t want to eat their vegetables, whining: “We don’t like this boring food that you keep giving us. We’d rather be slaves in Egypt where we ate spice cakes!”

How foolishly we behave when we don’t like what God is doing! How insane are the alternatives that we think are better!

The cure for the Israelites’ stupidity was a big dose of appreciation for life. Death by venomous snakes was far worse than a boring diet of manna, so their prideful complaints became a humble request. And God responded by saving them through a miracle that foreshadowed Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

God could have driven out the snakes by a different method, but he took care of the people’s need by requiring them to look upon their punishment. The bronze snake raised high for all to see reminded them of their sin and reinforced their humility.

Today, we have crucifixes raised high in our churches to remind us of our sins and to reinforce our humility. There, we see our salvation.

Complaints are a sign that we’ve forgotten who God is and how much he really cares. Hey, if Jesus went through all that torture and death on the cross for us, wouldn’t he also do everything else that’s good for us?

Our complaints indicate that we think we know better than God does about how to solve our problems. But he sees slavery in our so-called “better” plans. He saves us from our stupid ideas despite our whining!

We need to face our sins, look honestly at their venomous consequences, and nail them to the cross by acknowledging that Jesus died to heal us from these sins. Until then, we’ll feel lost, confused, anxious, and abandoned. Only when we return to humility will we realize that Jesus has been with us the whole time, guiding us and helping us.

Meditate on a crucifix. Identify your current sins and imagine placing them on the cross. Then go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation or use the penance rite of Mass to make it really happen.

Today’s Prayer:

Lord, grant me the grace of sincere humility that I might recognize my weakness and my deep need for You. Amen.

© 2017 by Terry A. Modica

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