Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday word, 16 Mar 2018

Lenten Friday4 (16 Mar 2018)
Wis 2. 1a,12-22; Ps 34; Jn 7. 1-2,10,25-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., closing 5-Day Directed Retreat
As it shaped Lent the early church gave pride of place to the Fourth Gospel. In a singular way it retells the story of Jesus capturing the community’s experience of Jesus’ death-resurrection identity. The Fourth Gospel cannot separate the person of Jesus and the work of Jesus: Jesus lived to do the work of the One who sent him, an expression we already heard Wednesday, echoed today, and one we will hear again next week.

The readings today and next week from John’s gospel unfold Jesus’ return to Judea—he had been away over a year. I want to suggest a way to profit from these gospel selections as you return home and as Lent presses toward the Easter season: conversing.

Dialog unifies these selections—dialog between Jesus and leaders of the Jews. Their dialog has the feel of an interrogation or courtroom cross-examination. Jesus was no stranger to heated interrogations. Opposition to Jesus was constant; it began at a simmer. This dialog lets us know opposition had grown furious: the [leaders] of the Jews were trying to kill Jesus. We could say this furious intensity prepared Jesus for his final Good Friday cross-examinations by Caiaphas and by Pilate.

None of us is out to get Jesus. From us Jesus desires an intensity of a different sort: friendship. Can we describe our praying as intense? Has our praying been a back and forth with Jesus? Are we candid with Jesus? Do we voice ourselves in our praying? Do we question Jesus about what Jesus desires for us? Though my heart is very different from the hearts of those who opposed Jesus, I’m like them in this way: I want to speak to Jesus without holding back.

Speaking with Jesus as one friend to another was St. Ignatius’ shorthand for praying. Friendship-talking carries intensities of different sorts. Here are a few:
  • At times we identify with friends. Jesus self-identified with God and the saving work of God.
  • Friends ask us difficult questions, hear-hurting questions to use a Japanese phrase. Because friends ask them we can bear them.
  • When friends endure difficulties we can be there for them just as friends are with us in our difficult moments. Lent invites us closer to Jesus.
  • Another friendship-intensity allows us to be open with friends. Our friend Jesus welcomes us to say anything to him.
Conversing with friends affects us. Conversing with our friend Jesus does as well. Here are two ways to take with you: discovering our true selves; and appreciating Jesus’ passionate way of loving.

Questioning Jesus as we question friends and friends question us: praying of that candid sort can lead us to notice Jesus prompting us to deepen our friendship. Friends help us know ourselves better. In a similar way candidly conversing with Jesus can: reveal to us our true selves who Jesus creates each moment; and encourage us to live as our true selves.

Conversing with Jesus about his hour can help us appreciate Jesus’ energetic passion to do the desires of his Father. Conversing with Jesus about his hour converses with him about his paschal mission—his passion, death, resurrection-ascension. Our conversing gets us more in touch with Jesus’ gift of himself. We live his self-gift to us as our Christian identity. Conversing with Jesus about his hour can help us treasure anew our Christian identity: we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so also we might walk in newness of life.1 To walk in newness of life is to pattern our lives once more on Jesus’ passion to love generously. To pattern our lives on Jesus is the fruit of the most important conversations we can enter.
  1. Romans 6.4.


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