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Saturday, April 4, 2020

Reflection: 2020-04-04 Saturday 5th Week of Lent

Ezekiel 37:21-28; Jeremiah 31; John 11:45-57
The Gospel today says Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” he did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death. Caiaphas decided to kill Jesus to save the nation. But John said, Caiaphas did not say this on his own, but he was prophesying. We clearly see how the evil intent of Caiaphas, made him reveal God’s plan for his people and for the dispersed children of God. While the enemy has evil plans and carries them out, God uses these for our good.
We see this in the first reading, which speaks of restoration after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the exile of the people to Babylon. The Assyrians have literally annihilated the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Babylonians have destroyed the kingdom of Judah. But God will use this to unite the two kingdoms into one. While the destruction and death that resulted in the collapse of Israel and Judah is evil, God uses this to teach his people several lessons. They will never again defile themselves with their idols or any of their transgressions. I will save them from all their apostasies into which they have fallen, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people and I will be their God.
While God is not the source of evil, God uses the evil in the destruction of the two kingdoms to teach his people to worship him alone, because the worship of God is the only way they can have life. Wisdom 14:27 tells us For the worship of unnamed idols is the beginning, the cause and the end of all evil. The loss of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, the exile of the people show all these things are vain because the people worshiped idols. They did not worship God in Spirit and truth. Their worship of God is based on mechanical rituals, thinking they God is like other gods they can manipulate. But God cannot be manipulated. He will not act the way we want just because we tell him.
The fact is: God is God and we are not. And if I think I can manipulate God by threatening him or bargaining with him, I am not worshiping the God and Father of Jesus. I am worshiping a god of my imagination, which is worshiping unnamed idols. The only way to worship God is to worship him in Spirit and Truth, to come to him just as we are, to accept him as he is and to trust him.
We become God’s people not because we say we are. Even our baptism does not guarantee we become God’s people. We become his children when we were baptized, BUT if I defile myself with idols or sin, or apostasies, I reject God and he respects that. He leaves me on my own! God will not save me if I reject him. I cannot demand from God to forgive me even if I want to continue living the way I want to live. I cannot demand from God to protect me if I reject his protection.
God makes us his people, because he loves us and wants us to live with him for eternity. BUT he does this also so people may know him and turn to him so they in turn can live with him for eternity. We do not deserve to be God’s people. It is a privilege not a right!
But God receives us when we come to him humbly, begging for his mercy, turning away from our idolatry and resolving to trust and worship him alone, to accept him as he is, and let him rule over my life.
Lord, I come before you because of the things I have done. I have not accepted you as you are. I have worshiped a false god, a god of my imagination. I wanted a god who will obey me, rather than a God whom I will obey. I wanted a god who will encourage me in my sin, rather than a God who will lead me away from temptation and sin. I wanted a god who will serve me on my own terms, rather than a God who serves me on his terms. Forgive me Lord. Jesus, I trust you and help me to worship your Father in Spirit and in Truth.

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