April 3, 2020
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's School of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 255

Jeremiah 20:10-13
Psalms 18:2-3SA, 3BC-4, 5-6, 7
John 10:31-42

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Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

This reflection will be coming soon. Until then, here is a reflection by Eileen Burke-Sullivan for this day in 2018.

In the current culture few people reach the ripe old age of 21 years without experiencing some of the anxiety and terror that the first reading expresses today.  Everywhere I look someone seems to have it in for me – is prepared to make my life miserable.  Where can I turn when even friends don’t seem safe?  The prophet’s response, of course, is God.  But what if our image of God causes us to fear his wrath?  What if God also has it in for me?  OR where do I find hope if there is no God?  What if the notion of God is just a figment of human imagination to cope with this very kind of human situation? 

These are the questions that name some of the anxiety that lives within so many of us.  To whom or what can we turn to find hope and have confidence that Goodness will prevail?  If I look at the political landscape, global climate change, the financial instability of our time, the chronic oppression of the weak, violence with sex and guns – every news report screams the dangers of merely being alive in our world.  Where is hope?

Jesus, in today’s Gospel passage from John, confronts the dilemma of personal violence aimed at him. Because of his witness (by signs and deeds) of hope in a God who is loving and merciful, he is threatening to the political power of his religious culture.  They want to murder him because they are so afraid of hope.

The Gospel of John uses the term “the Jews” when he means what Matthew, Mark and Luke mean by the Pharisees, Sadducees and other leaders of the religious establishment.  Those leaders have an interpretation of God’s word that keeps them in power by causing a deep fear of God in the people. They promote an image of God that is harsh and judgmental (or even indifferent to suffering) so that they can wield the power of judgment upon their fellow believers.  When even the religious establishment has been co-opted by violence, oppression and the self-aggrandizement of those who are supposed to be servants, not overlords, where do those who want to believe, who want to find joy in life turn for hope?

During these last days in Lent, we who are Christians must turn to the Cross for hope.  It is there that we see the image of our God who will suffer for and with us.  An image of a God who does not shore up the hegemony of violence but brings mercy for all by placing his own life on the line.  If your image of God gives you no hope in this world it is important to pray to know the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jesus.  Don’t let cultural stereotypes of bolts of lightning striking you down.  Don’t let images of a God who condemns stand in your way of coming to the Cross and seeing the truth of “Love Alone” stretched between heaven and earth.  Jesus is offering the passage, through his own body, into the heart of mercy, where we are loved, protected and filled with Joy.  That is our rightful inheritance and we must learn to trust in Jesus and the Father so as to claim this gift of life and HOPE.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life; you have the words of everlasting life. (Jn 6. 63)

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