Lenten Meditation: Thursday, March 30, 2023
“Very truly I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” - John 8:51
The audacity. Could there be any other word for it? The people listening to Jesus must have been furious, were furious! Thinking to themselves, This man is saying he is greater than Abraham, than the prophets, that he is connected to God himself. He stands there, flesh and blood like we are, and says that if we believe in him, we will never die. The audacity. The sacrilege. Death came even for the greatest, the wisest, the most wonderful of the saints. That human beings would never see death? How could Jesus expect people to believe him?
Sitting down to reflect on this passage, my own heart is breaking—6 people shot dead in Nashville, 3 of them children. At least 38 dead after a fire broke out in a detention facility along our southern border. As a priest, I have dedicated my life to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but this world does not make it easy. The cruelty of death is everywhere. There are days I want to ask, God–how do you expect us to believe you?
Perhaps “expect” is the wrong word. We heard on Sunday that Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. He wept to see his friends weeping, wept at Mary’s tears, wept at the shell-shock of the graveside, when the people said, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept, even knowing what he would and could do to bring Lazarus back to life. At the core of our Christian faith, we believe that God loves us and cares for us. When we hurt, God does too. In doing so, God does not expect our belief. He simply offers himself.
It is Jesus himself who first said, “Come and see,” back at the beginning of John’s Gospel. But first Jesus asks a question: “What are you looking for?” As we approach Palm Sunday and Holy Week, as we carry confusion and exhaustion at the state of the world, it helps to answer him.
Today: Spend some time in prayer with that question: What are you looking for?