Homily for April 15, Friday of the V week of Lent
As we draw to the close of the last week before Holy Week, the readings show us how the tensions between Christ and the religious leaders of Jerusalem continue to escalate. Jesus clearly speaks of Himself as the Son of God, and His enemies pick up rocks to stone Him, and also try to arrest Him. Jesus escapes, because it is not yet the time for His passion, but very soon the moment will come when they will succeed in arresting Him and condemning Him to death. The first reading and the psalm are written from the perspective of innocent and righteous servants of God who turn to Him in their distress and are rescued, as Jesus will turn to His Father more than once during His ordeal. As we know, that rescue does eventually come after a fashion in the resurrection, but only after the Lord had suffered for our sins. That’s something to keep in mind when we pray to God in times of suffering; help will come, but not always the way we would expect, and sometimes God asks us to endure for a while and join our suffering to Christ’s Passion.
Going back to the scene in today’s Gospel reading: despite the attitude of many of the Pharisees, priests and scribes, many people believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They believe because they have seen Jesus carry out in His acts the works that John the Baptist foretold. They are works of divine power and compassion, together with words of authority, justice and mercy. Jesus’ life gives credibility to His claims.
At this moment, close to the end of Lent, it would be good for us to take a moment to reflect on the past five and a half weeks. Has the way we lived these weeks given credibility to our observance of Lent? Have we tried to pray more, to practice real self-denial, and to be more generous with others? I’m not asking if we have totally succeeded; if we have, that’s great, but the key thing is to see if we have really made at least a small change in our attitudes and behavior. And as we look back and draw conclusions about our Lenten observance, let us ask the Lord what He wants us to achieve for the week we have left before Easter. Let’s make an extra effort to accompany Jesus during this last stretch of time on His way to Calvary, so that we can also rejoice that much more with Him on Easter Sunday.