Thursday, April 02, 2009

Believe the Works

April 3, 2009

Friday of the Fifth Week in Lent

By Melanie Rigney

The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. (Jeremiah 20:11)

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice. (Psalms 18:7)

The Jews again picked up rocks to stone him. Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?" The Jews answered him, "We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God." Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." (John 10:31-38)


Lord, I pray that I be made more aware of the way You are present in my life and the lives of those around me. Let my works—my public and private thoughts, words, and deeds—always reflect Your glory.


So finally, the establishment begins to get it. This Jesus is making himself God. The riddles and word snares are done. This isn’t about paying the census tax or picking grain on the Sabbath or quizzing him on Mosaic Law.

And Jesus answers them straight on with words from the law, which “calls them gods to him the word of God came.” How can it be blasphemy, then, to call himself God’s Son? He provides the key linkage—watch me walk the walk and believe in the walk, even if you don’t believe the talk. The ultimate example comes in just one week, on the journey to Calvary.

Two thousand years later, people still are being stoned in one fashion or another for doing the Father’s works. Consider the Christians who are suffering and dying in China, India, and elsewhere. Consider the Catholics in our own diocese who are questioned intensely by authorities about their activities to help immigrants, legally in this country or not, who are in desperate need of food and shelter. Consider our own eye rolls at the activities of those whose worship style is different from our own—those who favor a charismatic style, for example, or the mystics among us. They’re all stonings; the only difference is in degree.

As we prepare for the most solemn week of the year, let us strive to show the God in us to others, no matter what the price. As today’s first reading declares, the mighty champion is always with us. He hears our voice in the smallest or largest distress. Be confident that our persecutors will not triumph—and that, should we ourselves persecute, God has a way of putting us to utter shame.


Today, find God in the works of someone you find difficult to love. Compliment him or her.

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