Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent


So they said to him, "Who are you?"
Jesus said to them, "What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world."
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.


The rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar asked the question, "Who is he?" I attended the show once in the early aughts here in Louisville. It was a peaceful summer evening in Iroquois Park, with the roar of cicadas filling the silences. The music was the same as I'd heard in the 1970's but the production was altogether different. Audience and cast no longer asked, "Who is he?" They were quite sure they knew.
I was caught between dread and profound discomfort. The show seemed the very worst of American conceit. The mystery of this ancient near-eastern Jew had been rendered white, suburban middle-class and entirely predictable.
Fortunately, it was a Saturday evening and I would celebrate our beautiful Mass in the morning. The Mass has not been doctored or sanitized to fit any nation's expectations. The authorized translations of our prayers do not attempt political or cultural correctness. They retain their roots in the traditions that Jesus received from his ancestors and adapted for his disciples. People who might be offended by certain words like his, many or consubstantial are invited to set aside their fears and discover the divine purpose behind these words. Words cannot explain the mystery of God, but their meanings, music and cadence can evoke it without profanation or violence. They invite us into God's presence.
If you would have an answer to the question, "Who are you?" Jesus directs your attention to "the one who sent me."
How often in ordinary affairs do we identify ourselves by someone else? "I am Marty and Edith's son. I am Robert's brother. I am friend of Father Tom. I am a Franciscan." You can hardly say you know someone if you know nothing of his people: his family, friends, colleagues, co-religious, and so forth.
When his opponents miss Jesus' allusion to his Father, it's obvious they do not know the God who sent him, despite their confident pretensions.
During this season of Lent, with Holy Week about to open before us, the Lord invites everyone to come with him to Jerusalem. Those who know him and those who don't fall in line to carry their crosses and walk in his footsteps. There is no place in his retinue for the casual acquaintance or the sometime friend. His mission is too serious for that.
As Saint Thomas said, "Let us also go to die with him."

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.