Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Today’s readings
Mass for the school children.

Sometimes it seems like everyone is against us.  Maybe you’ve felt that way sometimes.  Maybe someone was telling lies about you and trying to get others to work against you, or maybe they were looking for any time you did the slightest thing wrong, or messed up in any way, so they could act all superior.  That happens sometimes, and it’s frustrating.  If that has every happened to you, or if it ever does, I think you might understand a little of how the prophet Jeremiah, King David, and Jesus may have felt in today’s readings and psalm.

A prophet’s job is never easy; nobody wants to hear what they don’t want to hear.  The prophets had to tell the people what God wanted and how God wanted them to live, and lots of people just don’t like that.  And so it can be difficult to stand up for what’s right.  So for Jeremiah, things are getting dangerous: people disliked what he was saying so much that they wanted him dead.  The same is true for Jesus in today’s Gospel reading.  Jesus now is rapidly approaching the cross; it’s almost the hour for him to give his life.  King David in the psalm finds that his enemies are pursuing him to the point of death, like the waters of the deep overwhelming a drowning man.

But all of them find their refuge in God: God never leaves us alone in our troubles.  Jeremiah writes, “For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!”  King David takes consolation in the fact that “From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.”  And for Jesus, well, his time was coming close, but it had not yet come.

When we are provoked like they were, how do we respond?  Is our first thought to take refuge in God, or do we try to solve the problem on our own?  It’s probably the second thing, but honestly, that never ever works.  If we don’t turn to God, we will sooner or later find those waves overwhelming us, because there is always a limit to our own power, a limit to what we ourselves can do.  But God never expects us to do the right thing all by ourselves.  He knows that it’s hard for us to stand up for what’s right, to do the right thing when everyone seems to be doing something else, to speak up for those who are struggling when everyone else is making fun of them.  God always expects us to do the right thing, of course: that’s what he made us for.  But he doesn’t expect us to do the right thing on our own.  He will give us the power to stand strong in the midst of trouble.  If we do things on our own, we have no one to turn to when things go wrong or when things get tough.  But if we turn to God, even if things don’t improve on our own timetable, we will always find refuge and safety in our God: there will be strength to get through, and we will never be alone.

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