Monday, March 12, 2012

3rd Sunday of Lent

Towards the end of today’s Gospel passage (Jn 2.35) , St. John shares with us the empathy he has with Jesus. He tells us: “many believed in Jesus’ name when they saw the signs he gave – but he knew them all and did not trust himself to them – he could tell what a person had in him” – or as another translation puts it …”Jesus would not give them his confidence; he had knowledge of them all, and did not need assurances about any one, because he could read all hearts”. (R.Knox).

Among those referred to in this passage, there were obviously some who were enthused about Jesus and his miracles but it seems there was no real depth to their enthusiasm; among the crowd too, would no doubt have been some of the hypocrites who so often tried to catch Jesus out in what he said and did during his ministry. How Jesus detested hypocrisy; with sinners he was always so compassionate and forgiving, but hypocrisy brought forth strong condemnations from him. How dear the quality of sincerity is to Jesus is highlighted in his words to Nathanael (Jn.1:45-51) - ‘behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile’–a beautiful compliment which utterly amazed Nathanael; truly Jesus could read his heart, as he can read all hearts, and that can be a source of great consolation because it means he so well understands our weaknesses.

There is not one of us who would wish to be included in the group in whom Jesus had no confidence, no trust – yet many of us realise when we reflect on our lives that we have failed his confidence, his trust, perhaps many times – the wonderful fact is, Jesus, who is madly in love with each of us does trust us again and again – he forgives all our failures small and great endless times, in fact as we read in the prophet Isaiah (Is.30.18) in today’s Liturgy – ‘the Lord waits, yes waits, to be gracious to us; he exalts himself to show mercy,’ and he longs once again to tie the bond of loving friendship with us ever more strongly. Not only does he forgive and forget our failures but he longs to come into our very hearts and be completely one with us, again and again, in the precious gift of Himself in Holy Communion What immense joy and peace this gives to us when our hearts are weighed down with a deep consciousness of our failings.

St. Elizabeth of the Trinity encourages us in the words of St.Paul: “where sin abounded Grace did more abound” and she goes on to say ‘never let yourself be cast down by the thought of your wretchedness, it seems to me that the weakest soul, even the one that is most blameworthy, is the one that has the best grounds for relying on God’s mercy – by forgetting itself and throwing itself into the arms of God, it glorifies him and gives him more joy than by all its falling back upon self examination that makes it live with its infirmities, whilst all the time it possesses at the centre of itself a Saviour who wills to purify every moment’.

Let us then take new heart and encouragement as we continue our Lenten journey, knowing that Jesus will most certainly entrust himself to every sincerely contrite heart; let us respond to his loving invitation in the Gospel – ‘Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and you will find rest for your souls’.

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