Daily Reflection
March 18th, 1999
Larry Gillick, S.J.
The Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Exodus 32:7-14
John 5:31-47

We hear a most dramatic dialogue in today's first reading from the Roman Catholic liturgy.  God tells Moses "Go down at once and tell your people...they have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them."  Needless-to-say, God is more than somewhat angry.  After all that God had done for His people, they have made false images and have become "Your People."  God ends this furious rage by telling Moses that God will destroy this ungrateful group and make a new people for Moses.  The drama increases when Moses reminds God of God's past revelations of love to this people.  God had made them special by the freeing of them from slavery, why abandon them now! "Relent in punishing Your people."  After this brief history of God's care for Israel, "So the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict on His people."

Jesus has His own argument with some of the Jews in today's Gospel.  The main argument here is that Jesus has performed signs which testify that He does come from the Father.  He is quite direct in confronting the same kind of obstinacy which characterized the unfaithfulness we heard in the first reading.   Jesus uses the testimony of John for proof and then says that He relies on a greater testimony than that of John, "Namely the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish."  These works are proof that Jesus is greater than John, in whom they do believe.   Finally, Jesus asks the people to search their scriptures and find where their great prophet Moses also testifies to Jesus Himself.

Our prayer today flowing from the Eucharistic liturgy is to "re-Lent" ourselves.  We pause and reflect on the saving deeds of God in our lives.  We are "His people" and while we have wandered, God has kept faithful to our relationship with Him.  God has made promises and Jesus, as our new Moses is the "Living-Sign" of God's faithfulness and mercy.

Praying these days of Lent centers around God's call, through the prophets and through the person of Jesus to "stop complaining!"  As with our Jewish ancestors before us, we all have expectations of just how God ought to be with us.  We are believers, God's beloved, the "Promised Ones," and here we are, not totally complete or completely happy.  Complaining is the badge of all our tribes. Today and these days of Lent, we do more than "deal with it," we pray with our complaints and hear God again relenting.

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