Author Archives: maurorasmith
In the past few days we have followed Jesus’ confrontation with the scribes and Pharisees who continually question his authority. We are made aware of how they plot to kill Jesus because he is ultimately a threat to their status in the Jewish community. Jesus reminds them that Moses had previously written about him and had they believed Moses’ writings, they would know and accept who Jesus is. Not even his miracles seem to phase them in the least. Even the physical evidence is grounds for their distrust. However, the Pharisee’s refusal to trust Jesus and his authority will bring God’s judgment upon them.
Trust is not an easy thing to have for others when we have experienced deception in our lives. What is often unfortunate after such experiences is that we end up trusting only ourselves and what we consider truth independent of the faith community that surrounds us. There is a danger to isolate ourselves from God’s truth and deceive ourselves into thinking that our limited knowledge and understanding of God is the only way to go. Not infrequently, we narrow our scope of God’s revealed truth and like the Pharisees refuse to trust the the One who challenges us to growth. The Pharisees clearly did not want to change their way of thinking and acting. It might have meant putting aside preconceived notions of who the Messiah was supposed to be. It meant stepping out of their comfort zone and seeing Christ in a new light. It meant change…..and that means acknowledging that they did not know it all.
Do we dare trust God to truly transform us?
Who do you trust?
“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” This has always been such a comforting line for me throughout my life. During difficult times when I felt that I was struggling alone and that everyone had somehow ‘forgotten’ me, I would somehow come across this passage from Isaiah and remember God’s promise. When we began the journey in Lent we were sent into the desert with Jesus for forty days. It’s hard to imagine what it was like for Jesus to be completely alone in the barren, dry desert, devoid of water, green meadows and trees. If you’ve ever been in a desert-like area, you realize how incredibly empty and dangerous it is. I often think of the many illegal immigrants trying to make their way to the U.S. through the deserts of Arizona. When they suffer the unforgiving desert terrain, there must be a sense that God has forgotten them. They probably feel that they have been left to die and that God has abandoned them. As the prophet Isaiah puts it, “But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” But their deep trust and faith in the liberating God gives them the strength and courage to continue on the path they have chosen. The prophet reminds us that God is “near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.” The metaphor of a mother’s relationship to her child and her unrelenting tenderness toward the child of her womb is a profound reassurance that God acts the same way with us in such a way that surpasses our understanding. The psalmist also continuously reminds us that although God is just, God’s mercy and kindness override any anger that may have been provoked by our failures.
Let us remind ourselves during this holy season that when all others appear to have turned against us and set us aside, God will still remain a constant in our lives. Essentially, God will never forget us…
“Do you want to be well?” Jesus asks the crippled man. Whenever I have come across this reading I can’t help but wonder what Jesus was thinking. Really Jesus? Is that not a rhetorical question you’re asking? Of course the man wants to be healed! The man does not answer ‘yes’ right away, but appears to give an excuse and tells Jesus that he misses his opportunity because someone else beats him to the pool. How many times haven’t I hesitated to answer ‘yes’ right away and am quick to offer God excuses about why I don’t apprehend the opportunity to ‘be well’. What is it that I am afraid of? Or am I so caught up with trivial concerns in my life that the effort it would take to set them aside would inconvenience me? Is not my inner ‘wellness’ more important in that moment? Unless I take the risk to let myself be bathed in God’s pool of mercy, no healing can take place. It’s scary to jump into the deep water and risk drowning. It’s often not pleasant to look inside of ourselves and see the wounds and the shadows. But isn’t it much more liberating and comforting to hear God say, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk”? The waters of God’s love can be refreshing and rejuvenating. They’re worth ‘dipping’ into…
Yes Lord. I want to be well.
As we journey through the heart of lent we begin to sense a certain amount of weariness. We have probably experienced some falling away from our lenten resolutions and feel as if we have made no strides in our spiritual life. This can often be disconcerting to us especially because we are trying so hard to deepen our relationship with God. During this time we become much more keenly aware of our human limitations and see no sense in going on. However, our first reading today offers us a renewed hope. Isaiah reassures us that no matter what the past has held for us, God’s infinite merciful love is “about to create new heavens and a new earth.” The psalm reminds us that God’s mercy carries us even in spite of our failings. There is joyful promise in the air even in the more reflective solemnity of lent. So, let us not lose hope or determination. We need only do our part with a sincere heart and allow God to recreate us and love us into the persons we were intended to be.