Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for what he does, the Son will do also. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.
“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.”
Huh? In the midst of this theologically deep explanation of the relationship between the Son and the Father, Jesus tells the listener “Do not be amazed at this.” In other words, “don’t be surprised” or “do not marvel”. All the talk of eternal life, the dead hearing voices and the coming hour sees like impressive and astonishing stuff. What am I supposed to NOT be astonished about?
To figure out what Jesus is referring to it often helps, especially in the Gospel of John, to backtrack through the passage. As I work my way backwards from the phrase “do not be amazed” I find that Jesus is encouraging me not to be surprised that the Son has power from the Father to give life to that which is dead. Jesus is telling me to not be astonished that that which is lifeless can come alive again. Jesus commands not to be amazed that God offers life to something that wasn’t alive – that’s the gospel.
How many times have I presumed something to have no life – a hope, a feeling, a plan, a soul? But Jesus tells me not to be amazed that the Son has the power to bring to life something I perceived to be dead.
My prayer is that I would not be surprised when God brings life to that which I declared dead.
Gospel: John 5:31-47
Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 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. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Reflection: Rich Jerdonek ‘65, Saint Ignatius Alumnus
In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us the value of testimony in his life and ministry. The testimony of John the Baptist provided “a burning and shining lamp”. But Jesus points to the greater testimony of the Father on his behalf, the works the Father gave him, and scripture. He addresses unbelievers, who trust human praise before what they see and hear from God. He addresses us as well. Are we to rely only on the testimony of others? Or do we hear the testimony of the Father in our prayer and the works we see and experience each day?
We came to our faith in Christ through the witness of loving parents or friends and the preaching or teaching of spiritual mentors. Jesus also asks us to come to him and the Father in prayer, the sacraments, scripture, and his work in our daily life.
St. Ignatius was raised in the faith, but experienced God even more in the gospels, answered prayer, and the work he was given. In prayer at a roadside chapel in La Storta on the way to Rome he experienced a vision that set him firmly on the path to his greatest work. God the Father appeared to him with Jesus carrying the Cross. He commended Ignatius and his company to Christ His Son, and said “I will be favorable to you in Rome.” Ignatius went on to Rome to say his first Mass, found the Society of Jesus, and serve the rest of his life there.
In 2004 at a conference in Rome I organized a pilgrimage to that same small chapel with Mass celebrated by Jack Dister, SJ, ’49 and felt called to the ministry of spiritual direction. In the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius asks us to make a “colloquy” - an intimate conversation with God the Father, Jesus, Mary, or one of the saints - when we seek a special grace. Today consider a colloquy with Jesus and the Father seeking the grace to know, love, and serve Jesus more.
Friday, March 19, 2021 - Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Gospel: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Reflection: Mary Ann Vogel, Ed.D., Principal, The Welsh Academy
In December 2020, Pope Francis declared the following year to be the Year of St. Joseph. He chose the upcoming year not only to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the proclamation of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX but also to offer some strength to the faithful as the coronavirus pandemic cast a shadow around the world. The Holy Father wrote his Apostolic Letter, “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”) specifically for these times. Times when it would take each of us, especially those of us living extraordinarily everyday lives, to take extraordinary actions in the name of protecting the collective health and safety of those around us, both the ones we love and individuals we don’t even know.
We have seen extraordinary actions take place all around us over the last twelve months by heroes in the form of everyday people. We have seen the examples every day of caregivers who work in unrelenting environments to care for the sick, healing, and grieving, of individuals working in masses settings of people, employers ensuring job protection, and safety and infrastructure workers making certain public functions continue (think sanitation, fire, and safety, medical care, social services). We have been touched in infinite ways by everyday heroes throughout the pandemic. We have also watched as everyday people began wearing masks, staying physically distant from one another, reinventing family and friends visits, learning how to ZOOM for both business and personal needs, simultaneously teaching students and their own children, reconciling with a loved one, reconnecting with high school or college friends, and the list continues. In each of these actions, ordinary folks did what they thought impossible but necessary, ordinary people doing the extraordinary for the common good.
Wasn’t this Joseph? Yes, he was a man born of the House of David, but he was also born into a family of modest means in a small village of Galilee. This ordinary man listened and did the extraordinary, “he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” With the decision to take Mary as his wife, Joseph is an example that ordinary individuals can make an extraordinary impact on the world. Joseph did not know what the future held in store, but he knew to trust in the Lord’s commands. He was courageous when his world might have seen his decisions in a very different light. We meet Joseph just a few times in the Gospels, but each of those meetings allows us to learn a bit more about him. We learn of his unconditional love, his courage to go into the unknown with Mary, his acceptance of the baby Jesus as his own family, and his unfailing faith in God.
By saying YES to God, Joseph created a family for and with Mary. A family in which Jesus was able to learn, grow, love, and be fully human as he prepared himself to become the Savior of the World.
May Saint Joseph continue as a role model to each of us, ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the Greater Glory of God. Please take some time today to pray the following.
Prayer to Saint Joseph
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
Saturday, March 20, 2021 - Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Where is the Sunday reflection, you ask? At your parish! The next set of reflections will be shared on Monday. A.M.D.G.
Gospel: John 7:40-53
Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said, “This is truly the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he? Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?” The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.” Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” They answered and said to him, “You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” Then each went to his own house.
Reflection: Rita Kowalczyk, Intervention Specialist at the Walton Center
This Gospel passage leaves us with many questions. Are we open and flexible to what God is teaching us and what God wants us to be? Whether student or teacher- can we both be flexible and be willing to hear the other? Can we trust that we are all worthy to be sharers of our faith? We can become so comfortable with how we are that we often forget that God speaks to each of us in our own experience. Each person has an important place in Jesus’ community; when we lose sight of that, we lose sight of each other.
I am often questioned about faith by my daughter. My daughter has a hard time believing in God because God seems very abstract to her. I often talk about God to her and mention when I experience a moment where God has made a difference in my life. Reading this passage further encourages me to discuss God with my daughter. The message this passage tells me is to believe in what others say. Who are we to judge their authenticity?
Throughout this Lenten period, listen and reflect on how God has entered your life not only in scripture, but through others’ actions and words. What are you going to do knowing God is in your life? Keep your beliefs and thoughts to yourself or share with others?