March 23, 2023 –
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Exodus 32:7-14 + John 5:31-47
“… these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”
Jesus’ words today seem somewhat harsh, as they often seem in St. John’s Gospel account. Jesus’ words to the Jews confirm that they are lacking in faith, unwilling to believe in the Good News that Jesus is preaching. As we, the members of the Church, draw closer to Good Friday, we ought to ask whether we fully believe in the power of the Cross in our lives. Do we believe that in suffering we can find redemption? Do we believe that there is a meaning to all the suffering that we are constantly experience (often, of our own making)?
Jesus asserts that there is meaning in suffering, and that His Cross most perfectly reveals that meaning. But to those with weak faith, Jesus’ words don’t suffice, so He offers four witnesses who testify to the Truth of who Jesus is. John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Scripture, and God the Father each testify to what Jesus is saying, just as they will each testify to the sacrifice that Jesus will offer on Good Friday. Saint John the Baptist, Jesus’ miracles, and the Scriptures all foretold the mystery that Jesus would in time reveal on the Cross, but it is God the Father Himself who will give ultimate meaning to the Cross. The Father grants this meaning in raising Jesus from His suffering and death.
In saying all this in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus is preparing us to receive the Eucharist: that is, to share in the Sacrifice of the Cross sacramentally. He knew that many people would reject His teaching on the Eucharist, and that in doing so they would be rejecting Jesus Himself. In the Cross we find our redemption, and in the Holy Eucharist we have the opportunity to willingly and lovingly participate in Christ’s self-offering to the Father. We must have the confidence that the Father loves us—his adopted sons and daughters—as He does His only-begotten Son. In our own lives, we must have confidence that our sacrifice will be acceptable to God the Father.