Friday of the Fifth Week in Lent (April 11th, 2014)

The prophet Jeremiah spoke the Lord’s word of truth to an Israel that had nothing but resistance to the truth.  Idolatry had hardened the Israelite’s hearts against the Lord and now the false gods that Israel serve have betrayed them into the hands of their enemies.

The city of Jerusalem, the holy city, ruled by David’s successor who claimed to be the Lord’s anointed and where the great temple, the dwelling place of the Most High was located, was literally surrounded by the armies of Babylon.  Jeremiah proclaimed that to Israel that there was no way out.  The only chance they had would be to repent and hope that God would rescue a humbled people from the terrors to come. 

The Israelites would not listen to Jeremiah.  In fact their hearts were so hard, that in the desperation of their sins they would turn against the prophet Jeremiah and kill him.

The Church has long understood the prophet Jeremiah as a foreshadowing of Christ.  Jeremiah speaks the Lord’s word of truth, and his testimony is met with resistance and refusal.  Christ is the truth itself, and when he comes into the world, the world meets him with resistance and refusal.

The Gospel of John testifies to this when in its opening prologue we are reminded that, “.” 

We should not think that the refusal of Christ is merely an event of the past, something someone else did long ago.  The refusal of Christ lurks in each of us.  How many times have we met Christ’s summons to mission with a “no”.  How many times have we simply refused to see Christ’s presence in our neighbor or serve his suffering body in the bodies of the poor?  How many times has the call to prayer, to communion with Christ been met with unwillingness.  In all these ways in more, we refuse Christ- he comes to us and we tell him that we do not know him. 

The cross of the Lord displays where our refusals of Christ ultimately lead.  The dark powers that created the cross are within us all and they gather strength from all our refusals of God.  The stupidity, resentment, cruelty, and violence that create the cross are latent in all our refusals of Christ. 

Christ testifies to his divine identity in his Gospel. 

It is the Apostolic Faith, the Faith of the Church, that the Lord Jesus is God.  We do not believe that Christ’s divine identity is simply a symbolic way indicating his importance.  Nor do we believe that Christ’s divine identity was invented by the Church. 

We do believe that Christ reveals himself as God and the purpose of the Gospels and the Church’s worship is to demonstrate how this revelation was presented through Christ to Israel and to the world.

The sheer wonder of this revelation will be evident in the mysteries of Holy Week, through which we will come to appreciate and understand that God, in Christ, descends himself into death, demonstrating his power over death, but also, his willingness to share with us all the experiences of life that we ourselves experience.

God in Christ accepts a human nature, lives a real, human life, unites himself to us, not just in some things, or only in pleasant things, but in all the events and circumstances of life.  This is also the reason, why the Church, who is the servant of Christ, must go too into all the experiences of life, into what Pope Francis calls the “existential peripheries.”   

The Church doesn’t exist simply to provide us with faith-based services, but to expend her life in gifts of charity and mercy for the world.

Where Christ goes, so the Church must follow. 

 

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