Thursday, April 03, 2014

From the Only God

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

The LORD said to Moses, “I see how stiff-necked this people is.  Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.  Then I will make of you a great nation.”  But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying, “Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with such great power and with so strong a hand?  Exodus 32:9-11

How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?  Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope.  John 5:44-45

Father, help us to get our priorities straightened out. Soften our hearts, necks and minds so that we may use these last two weeks of Lent to prepare a place for you in our lives.

The stiff-necked rejection of Jesus in Jerusalem is juxtaposed with the intercession of Moses with the Lord on behalf of a people who have become “depraved” for worshiping a false idol. 

The lecture Jesus is delivering comes after another sign was rejected by the Pharisees because it was performed on the Sabbath.  Jesus rejects the notion that God rests from everything on the Sabbath – after all, people continue to be born and die on the Sabbath.  Thus, Jesus puts his work on par with the work of God (further infuriating the powers that be with his words as well as his actions).  

Hope in Moses is contrasted with lack of hope in Jesus.  The intervention to lead the people out of Egypt and then to continue to speak as their advocate to the Lord gives Moses special status.  Jesus reminds them that Moses (and all the prophets following) wrote of his ministry.  “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen.”  (Deuteronomy 18:15).  

If people remained stiff-necked and hard-hearted to Jesus, there would be little he could do to save them (except of course suffer a humiliating, painful and unfair death by capital punishment in order to save the people who actually rejected him).   

Jesus does not offer any condemnation – just observations.  What would Jesus or Moses say if they looked in on us today?  The media is now once again wallpapered with tragic stories of violence locally, nationally and internationally.  While popular support for Pope Francis far exceeds that of any politician, the chasm between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless, may be as wide as it was between Divas and Lazarus. 

In the modern era, every Pope has made a trek to our shores and has been greeted by crowded stadiums and parades.  Yet have we embraced the with our action the message that Pope Paul VI delivered any more than we will embrace the message that Pope Francis is delivering day by day?  Would Jesus not say the same thing today that he uttered two thousand years ago:  How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?  What can we do to change that perception, that reality?  How can we show our love in action and not just our possession obsession with Affluence, Indulgence, Entertainment and other idols?  

No one will know us as disciples by movies we watch, the music we listed to, the cars we drive, the fancy clothes we buy, or the meals we eat.  “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

No comments: