Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent, March 24, 2023

Men and women who claim to know God a bit and to live consistently as his sons or daughters, are queer and bothersome to unbelievers as well as to those who take their religion as a set of duties or religious rites. There is no place for such eccentrics who go against the current, for their way of life disturbs the established ways of society. It irritates unbelievers and they want to test the faith of those who trust in God. One has to conform or else… The person who voices his complaints in the Book of Wisdom was one of those annoying people. Jesus was another. What about us?

Opening Prayer
Our God and Father,
we claim to be your sons and daughters,
who know that you love us,
and that you call us to live
the life of Jesus, your Son.
Give us the courage
to live this life consistently
not to show off, not to reprove others,
but simply because we know
that you are our Father
and we are your sons and daughters,
brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen!

1 Reading: WISDOM 2:1a, 12-22
The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, Reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, Because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.” These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.

Responsorial PSALM 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23
R. (19a) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them. R.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him. R.

He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him. R.

Verse Before the Gospel: MATTHEW 4:4b
Glory and praise to you, oh Christ!
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
Glory and praise to you, oh Christ!

Gospel: JOHN 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.

The Word of God cannot remain silent
All of us experience times when we struggle to explain something, and no matter how hard we try, others fail to get the point we are trying to make. I often struggle with my accent and wrong pronunciations to make my point clear to my parishioners or the Community! And, of course, I thought that the problem was theirs! How do they not understand what is so clear to me!
As we approach the closing weeks of Lent, we hear today from St. John the evangelist who makes a great reflection on the journeys that Jesus made to Judea and reveals incidents that the other evangelists do not.
John notices that Jesus is confining his activities to Galilee. He did not want to go to Judea and the vicinity of Jerusalem because people there wanted to kill him. Jesus does not expose himself unnecessarily to danger and waits for “his time.”
It is the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, but today’s reading does not mention about the feast. We reflected on this passage in detail last Sunday. The feast of Tabernacles was one of the three major feasts of the Jews. Many Jews came from all over the land of Israel and from other countries on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast.
The family members of Jesus are urging him to go up to Jerusalem and show himself to the world instead of confining himself to the village. Jesus declined, but after they had left, he, probably accompanied by the apostles, secretly went up to the feast. The secrecy is easy to understand in light of the threats against Jesus. But what happens next is not so easy to understand. How do we explain first the secrecy and then the lack of it?
Jesus is a source of confusion in the minds of many people. On the one hand, the people are aware that Jesus has become a target of their religious leaders, yet he goes about openly speaking freely and without fear. The Word of God cannot remain silent.
Jesus then tells them: “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from.” That is only partially true; rather, they think they know.
Do we really know who Jesus is? There are many conflicting opinions out there. But to know the real Jesus, we must go back to the Scriptures, read them, pray with them and strive to live by the Word of God. Lent invites us to spend time with the Word of God, and to make it a practice that goes far beyond Lent.

– For those who are persecuted for their faith and for their persecutors, we pray:
– For those to whom life seems a burden hard to bear, that they carry their cross with the Lord and find relief and happiness, we pray:
– For those who are challenged because of the good they do, that the Spirit of the Lord may give them the strength to persevere, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, our God,
your Son Jesus, was rejected
by those whom he came to save.
In this Eucharist, he is with us now as our Lord
who died for us but rose again.
May we welcome him with love
and commit ourselves with him
to the good of our neighbour.
May our lives bear witness to him,
that no one may reject him now
on account of us, for we claim him
as our Lord and Saviour for ever. Amen!

Prayer after Communion
Lord, our God,
we pray to you especially today,
for those whom you send
to bring the Good News of your Son to the world.
Give strength to all those who have to bear witness
in difficult circumstances,
like your missionaries,
that they may not lose heart
but remain faithful and close to you
and to Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord for ever. Amen!

Let our lives bear witness to the Lord, who was persecuted and suffered, so that we may have forgiveness and life. May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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