Uplifted Attention

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Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 5:31-47

Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. “I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come before you, once more begging you for the eyes of faith, to look forward to being with you in heaven. Grant me the grace to hope in you, in your promise of eternal life. I love you, Lord, for you have loved me first.

Encountering Christ:

  1. Freedom before Facts: Christ spoke about his mission on this earth, which was to reveal the Father to men, and to bring us all to eternal life. Jesus spoke of all that testified to him: John the Baptist, the Old Testament Scriptures, his own miracles, even the Father himself. Nonetheless, Jesus didn’t force the Jews to make a decision, to believe in him or else. Rather, he simply let them know that they were free to choose him: “…but you do not want to come to me to have life.” Christ presents us with the same evidence of his divinity and he leaves us free to choose. To choose him is to choose life!
  2. Horizontal versus Vertical Views: Jesus tried to draw the Jews away from their obsession with Moses and the law and toward him as the fulfilment of the law. They hadn’t realized that Moses testified to Jesus. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses said that God would raise up a prophet like him from among the people of Israel, to whom they were to listen. Oftentimes we can get caught up in this way or that way of being Catholic, entangling ourselves in the law instead of lifting our eyes and our hearts to heaven, to Jesus. Lord, lift our eyes to you!
  3. Hope Extending from Faith: St. Paul once said, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Christ wants to show us in this discourse that there is more to hope for in this life than perfect conformity with the law, personified by Moses. He wants to show us that if we come to him, we will have eternal life. This gives purpose and direction to our whole life. Our time on earth is given to us by God in order to come to Christ, and gain eternity with him. 

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, you know how distracted I get with the petty day to day drama of my life. You know how far it can drag my gaze from you, Lord. Draw me back to you! Draw my gaze back so that I may help to draw others back to you as well. 

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend a few quiet moments in prayer in recollection at midday.

For Further Reflection: Seasons of Change: A Retreat Guide on Spiritual Growth by Fr. John Bartunek, LC (available on RCSpirituality.org).

written by Br. Brian Flanagan, LC

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