Keeping His Word
“You are well aware that our sins arouse God’s anger. You must change your life, therefore, so that God in his mercy will pardon you.” ~ Saint Francis of Paola, Hermit
The great prophet Abraham takes center stage on this the 5th Thursday of Lent as we recall God’s Covenant with him in our 1st Reading (Genesis 17:3-9) as well as Jesus’ eye-opening claim that he in fact “knows Abraham” in our Gospel (John 8:51-59).
“Whoever keeps my word will never see death” Jesus tells those on hand to kick off our Gospel Passage, leading them to believe that this was the last straw, this was proof that he was possessed. With the heavenly “big picture” always embedded in his teachings, the Jews on hand could only view Jesus’ words through the prism of the finite and fleeting world in which their faint hope resided. Their refusal to accept Jesus as the Son of God prevented them from understanding anything he said in matters pertaining to eternal life. That’s a big miss.
This had to be frustrating for all involved and it ultimately led to Jesus being false accused, tortured, and crucified; this frustration is still very prevalent today.Those who bow down to the false idols of pleasure, corrupt politicians and moral relativism will never understand Saint Paul’s idea of “life in the spirit.” Rarely do they ever even contemplate heaven, therefore their thoughts and actions are never aligned with the pursuit of eternal life.
Today’s marks the 15th Anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. I’ve come to refer to this great Saint as the “Pope of a lifetime.” For many of us, he was the Pope of our lifetime, serving as the Vicar of Christ during the prime years of our lives, his papacy spanning nearly 27 years, the 6th longest reign going back to our first Pope, Jesus’ friend Saint Peter. On the topic of sin, Saint John Paul II said “holiness is not reserved for a small number of exceptional persons. It is for everyone. It is the Lord who brings us to holiness when we are willing to collaborate in the salvation of the world for the glory of God, despite our sin and our sometimes rebellious temperament.”
We must heed the words of Saint Francis of Paola, whose quote kicks off today’s reflection and whose Feast Day we celebrate today. Saint Francis knew that what we concealed from man was known by God, that we must repent and convert, and that this conversion must be made with a sincere and contrite heart. When we do our best to refrain from sin, and seek forgiveness when we fall short? we keep God’s word. Only then will the peace of God be with us.
“Almighty and eternal God, our refuge in every danger, to whom we turn in our distress; in faith we pray look with compassion on the afflicted, grant eternal rest to the dead, comfort to mourners, healing to the sick, peace to the dying, strength to healthcare workers, wisdom to our leaders and the courage to reach out to all in love, so that together we may give glory to your holy name.” ~ Amen
“We adore you O Christ and we praise you. For by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”