FRIDAY OF THE FOURTH WEEK IN LENT

March 31, 2017

Wisdom 2:1A, 12-22

 

For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves,

“Let us lie in wait for the righteous man,

because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions;

he reproaches us for sins against the law,

and accuses us of sins against our training.

He professes to have knowledge of God,

and calls himself a child of the Lord.

He became to us a reproof of our thoughts;

the very sight of him is a burden to us,

because his manner of life is unlike that of others,

and his ways are strange.

We are considered by him as something base,

and he avoids our ways as unclean;

he calls the last end of the righteous happy,

and boasts that God is his father.

Let us see if his words are true,

and let us test what will happen at the end of his life;

for if the righteous man is God’s child, he will help him,

and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult and torture,

so that we may find out how gentle he is,

and make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death,

for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,

for their wickedness blinded them,

and they did not know the secret purposes of God,

nor hoped for the wages of holiness,

nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;

 

 

Psalm 34:16-20, 22

 

The face of the Lord is against evildoers,

    to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,

    and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,

    and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

    but the Lord rescues them from them all.

He keeps all their bones;

    not one of them will be broken.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants;

    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

 

 

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

 

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near.

 

But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret.

 

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.

 

 

Meditation 

 

The Jewish festival of Booths is a commemoration of the forty years that the Israelites spent in the desert in between being in captivity and entering the promised land. It is called the festival of Booths because the Israelites stayed in temporary tents and shelters throughout that forty year period. The idea behind the commemorative festival is to remember the temporary nature of spiritual trials and to delve into the mystery of God’s divine timing. For the Israelites in the wilderness, the season of traveling and living in tents was a time of testing by God - but by remaining in tents versus establishing homes, their nomadic nature points to their faith that this was a season of trial that would, in fact, pass and ultimately bring them into the land God promised them.

 

In the times of desolation in the desert, it was easy for the Israelites to slip into attitudes as proclaimed in the book of Wisdom. The “wicked” mock the words of the righteous one, because they do not understand, and refuse to seek knowledge of the ways of God. Times of trial and pain can either send us into swirling cycles of doubt and frustration that drive us from the presence of the Lord. Or, by simply turning our questions to the Lord, can bring us into an ever growing understanding and embracing of the Lord’s love for us. The scripture promises that the Lord is near the brokenhearted. So while we wrestle with the challenges of our lives, the Lord is desiring to be let into the struggle and bring peace and clarity. 

 

In the gospel today, Jesus calls out the people of Jerusalem to not rely on their human understanding to grasp the complexity of His identity, but rather to hear His words, relate them to promises made known in the scriptures, and submit their human intellect over to the sovereignty of God’s divine knowledge. By doing so, their hearts and minds can come into alignment with God’s plan for man’s redemption. But in order for man to grasp at God’s plan, he needs to be willing to surrender his own narrow intellectual understanding over to God’s mysterious will. 

 

Submitting to God’s plan in the midst of uncertainty is one of the most counter-culture mindsets that exists. Our human nature wants to be able to make decisions, draw conclusions, and land on plans of our choosing without taking into consideration how God uses our trials and sufferings to bring us into healing and redemption. Had the Israelites given in to the limits of their human knowledge and settled in the desert instead of residing in booths, than they never would have entered the promised land. If we renounce the nature of God’s timing and resist Him forming us in times of trial, we become like the “wicked” and fail to embrace God’s transformative healing. The Lord truly is near the brokenhearted and delights to bring wisdom and restoration into our lives. We only have to let Him in.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you know Lord that I do not always understand your ways. Your works and your timing are often a mystery to me. But I desire to live in submission to you, allowing you to form my understanding of my life through knowledge of you versus the confusion of my current circumstances. Lord today I submit to you my will and ask you to shape my understanding. Help me Lord to be patient and to wait upon on you in full trust of your goodness. I believe in your plan to bring my healing, deliverance, salvation, and to redeem and mend my broken heart. In Jesus's name, amen.  

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