March 29: Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Sunday’s joy bubbles over again in today’s prophetic first reading, but Jesus’ enemies throw a heavy wet blanket over it. They know the prophets. They have seen Jesus comforting and showing mercy to the afflicted of all kinds. They have heard him promise the dawning reign of God. And they are determined to kill him.
Jesus has angered them by breaking the Sabbath and calling God his own Father, though he points out that all his works are God’s. And he promises them, in the midst of life’s travails, that all stories will come to a happy ending when “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, / and those who hear will live.” We recall that when we pray “he descended into hell,” traditionally understood as the place where the dead awaited him.
To seize that good news, Jesus’ hearers—and we among them—have to cope with a difficult fact. What we see as reality is not all there is. Jesus constantly confronts us with the greater reality of God present and working in ways we cannot always see or understand. No matter how carefully and thoroughly we think we have defined God, as Jesus’ opponents thought they had, God escapes and becomes once again the uncontrollable “more.”
So Jesus’ hearers, and we, are confronted with the difficult gift of faith, that relationship with God that opens the road down which Christ comes to save us. The gift comes without tangible guarantees. Hope, yes. Hints, yes. Touches of grace, yes. But no provable facts or definitions because “the more” transcends them.
Jesus’ opponents could not accept. They would walk to the edge of the religious facts they trusted, but they would walk no farther, even though Jesus was right there holding out a hand, with crowds of healed sufferers behind him. The gift of faith was just too difficult for them and, in their world, too dangerous, as Jesus’ death would prove.
And for us?
How do Jesus’ promises challenge the way you see reality? How does he ask you to stretch?
Lord Jesus Christ, author of life, give us the gift of a faith willing to venture beyond the bounds of common logic and everyday experience into the “more” of God’s love.
From Not By Bread Alone 2017: Daily Reflections for Lent 2017, by Genevieve Glen (Liturgical Press). Visit www.litpress.org for more information.