Friday 1 April 2022 4th week of Lent
The godless say to themselves, with their misguided reasoning: ‘Our life is short and dreary, nor is there any relief when man’s end comes, nor is anyone known who can give release from Hades. Let us lie in wait for the virtuous man, since he annoys us and opposes our way of life, reproaches us for our breaches of the law and accuses us of playing false to our upbringing. He claims to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a son of the Lord. Before us he stands, a reproof to our way of thinking, the very sight of him weighs our spirits down; his way of life is not like other men’s, the paths he treads are unfamiliar. In his opinion we are counterfeit; he holds aloof from our doings as though from filth; he proclaims the final end of the virtuous as happy and boasts of having God for his father. Let us see if what he says is true, let us observe what kind of end he himself will have. If the virtuous man is God’s son, God will take his part and rescue him from the clutches of his enemies. Let us test him with cruelty and with torture, and thus explore this gentleness of his and put his endurance to the proof. Let us condemn him to a shameful death since he will be looked after – we have his word for it.’ This is the way they reason, but they are misled, their malice makes them blind. They do not know the hidden things of God, they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded, they can see no reward for blameless souls.
Psalm 33 The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.
Jesus stayed in Galilee; he could not stay in Judaea, because the Jews were out to kill him. As the Jewish feast of Tabernacles drew near, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went up as well, but quite privately, without drawing attention to himself. Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, ‘Isn’t this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from.’ Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out: ‘Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me.’ They would have arrested him then, but because his time had not yet come no one laid a hand on him.
These reading reminded me of three Spanish MSC who worked in Guatemala in the 1970s-80s. You can think of the many English martyrs at the time of Mary Ward. For me the three Spanish MSC working with the Quiche people of in the Guatemalan mountainous interior are testimonies of today’s Gospel.
They lived their lives as MSC serving as priests openly supporting the poor farmers, upon the presence of the military and politicians who wanted to exploit the lands of the Quiche. All three of them were assassinated because their lives and ministry empowered people, dignified their value as human beings, gave them a voice, witnessed to a power that was close to the broken-hearted people. How easy it is to become an enemy to those who seek to diminish others, exploit them, demean them. These men and many other people gave testimony to the One who sent them
May we in our lives always find the opportunities to give the same testimony Whether it’s among the poor or at our desks. May we build up the broken-hearted, to empower them through knowing they are close to God, and to witness to them our own intimacy with the father and mother of all life.