thoughts and observations on the daily readings
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Readings may be found here
In the 5th chapter of the Gospel of John, we see both the revelation of Jesus Divine identity and the controversy and conflict that ignite in response to the revelation. At the outset of the chapter, Jesus performs a miraculous healing of a sick man. Jesus’ compassion and authority contrast with the religious leaders who ignored the man’s suffering for years and now resent his healing because Jesus has acted on the Sabbath. They fail to respond with faith to the presence and action of God. In the lengthy address that follows this miracle, Jesus denounces that failure and compares it to the stubbornness of the people in the time of Moses – a point emphasized in this liturgy by the selection of the first reading.
In His address, Jesus reminds them of the unity, the communion, that exists between Him and the Father. He contrasts their interest in human “praise” with His sole focus on Divine praise. The language here is interesting as the Greek word used is “doxa.” A word that can mean praise or “glory.” Jesus rejects glory as the world defines it and reveals only the glory of God. That Glory of God (Hebrew kavod adonai) accompanied the people through the desert to the promised land. It was the main point of building the Temple and Temple precincts - the place where people might draw near to that Glory of God. So the Glory of God revealed in Jesus will be unlike worldly glory – fame, military might, wealth, political power. Rather, His Glory is that of healing, mercy, creation, renewal, and love. His is the Glory of the One Who will be “lifted up” in a moment of absolute self-gift.
On most days, it is very difficult for us as human beings to respond fully and trustingly to this revelation of God’s presence and Divine will. We are too often distracted by shiny things and by our own egos. Maybe in these days of insecurity we have an opportunity to hear the Lord’s voice and appreciate His glory in a new way. It is certainly true that there are so many men and women on this very day who offer us witnesses of courage in the face of death, compassion over fear, and love over selfishness. There is the Glory of God shining before us – the Glory of the Only Begotten Son Who so loved the world…