Always Do What Is Pleasing to Him

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Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

John 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.” 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. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.

Opening Prayer: Dear Jesus, as I read your words, I felt almost as confused as your first listeners seemed to be. But as I reflect more, I begin to recognize that you are leading me on a very specific path, and I too begin to believe more deeply. Please help me follow you to union with the Father.

Encountering Christ:

1. “You Belong to This World”: The initial part of this discourse seems to touch on aspects of the first stage of the spiritual life: the purgative way. The Pharisees were living less than exemplary lives. They “belonged to the world” and they were in sin. We too can be caught up with the things of this world. We can develop a form of selfish tunnel vision that cuts us off from Jesus. In the purgative way, we strive to overcome habitual, sometimes serious sin that has kept us from Jesus.

2. “Who Are You?”: There was a subtle shift in their questioning when the Pharisees asked, perhaps humbly, “Who are you?” This is a bit like the illuminative way of the spiritual life. In this stage, a soul is open, inquiring, and eager to learn more, to grow more, and to apply to oneself the truths revealed by Jesus. For his part, Jesus always points us to the Father.

3. “Always Do What Is Pleasing to Him”: “I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” These final lines of the exchange are a beautiful description of the unitive way: a union of one’s life and very being–one’s mind, heart, and soul–with the Father. Jesus is the model par excellence of this union. This encounter concludes with the wonderful statement that “many came to believe in him!” May we all reach union with Our Lord!

Conversing with Christ: Lord, you were incredibly patient with the Pharisees, and even when you seemed to be condemning them, you were leading them to union with your Father. Please always do likewise with me; please help me to be humble and open, and lead me to true and pure union with the Father.

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will kneel before you in the tabernacle or monstrance and consider how very like the Pharisees I can be. I will beg you to open my heart to see the way I must follow, so that I do not die in my sin, but so that my journey will lead to a beautiful union with the Father.

For Further Reflection: To prayerfully reflect on our journey toward the Father, read this spiritual classic: The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

written by Mary Wolff

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