Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent – Option 1 – Jn 5:17-30
In today’s readings, we’re stuck by God’s love for His people. In the first reading, Isaiah tells us that “the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted.” Even if it seems that God has forgotten us, He simply replies, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” The Psalm, too, praises God for His goodness: “The LORD is gracious and merciful. . . . The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works. The LORD is faithful in all his words. . . . The LORD is near to all who call upon him.” Although the next verse is omitted in today’s reading, God continues by saying, “See, upon the palms of My hands I have engraved your name.” In other words, He will never forget us; indeed, we can imagine God thinking of us as often (and really even more often) than we look at our own hands.
The Gospel continues and deepens this theme of God’s love, even though it lacks the more obvious language we find in the other readings. Rather, what we find is an emphasis on life; in fact, the word life appears in some form or another eight times. The life the Son brings is an effect of love, as Jesus Himself tells Nicodemus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). In other words, God the Father loved, and so He sent His Son to bring life for us. Love gives rise to life. The life that Christ brings isn’t simply survival or just getting by. Rather, later in John’s Gospel, Christ tells His Apostles, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Christ comes not just so we’ll survive, but rather thrive; He wants us to be fully alive, full of joy and happiness.
This close union of love and will happens because the Father and the Son are united. As Christ tells us, “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.” Christ sees what the Father is doing because “the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he himself does.” In other words, because the Father loves the Son, He makes known what should be done, and because they are one, their wills are in complete uniformity. Christ then extends the effects to us by saying “whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life.”
We can draw a parallel between our lives as Christians and our relation to God, and the words of Christ’s in today’s Gospel. We should be able to say with Christ, “I cannot do anything on my own . . . because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” God loves us with a particular love, and, because He loves us, He calls us to the fullness of life. In our case, He reveals to us our vocations, a call to unite ourselves deeply to Him out of love for Him and for our neighbors, and to serve Him in complete uniformity with His will.
In our lives, then, we must be united to God both in love and in our wills. This love should make us seek out God’s will, and then strive to fulfill it. If our lives are to be an imitation of Christ, then we must be able to repeat with Him: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” Life is an effect of love: if we see ourselves cutting corners, or not enjoying the fullness of life that Christ came to bring, we should ask ourselves about how well we love Him and those whom He has put into our lives for us to love.
As we continue our Lenten journey, let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Divine Love, for the grace to really embrace the Father’s love for us, and so show in our actions that we are united with Him and with Our Father in heaven.