Fifth Wednesday of Lent

Readings: Dn 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95 / Dn 3: 52-56 / Jn 8: 31-42

God’s will, not my own

Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego confronted something that we are all confronted with from time to time.  Being thrown into a fiery furnace is likely not a regular threat that we face, but choosing against God is certainly a more common possibility.  Their choice was quite stark: worship the god of Nebuchadnezzer or remain faithful to the God of Abraham and suffer a horrible death.  For most of us the more common choice is much more subtle and so much more alluring: choose to pursue my self-defined objective in this situation or wonder what God’s objective might be for me.

The consequences of this choice may not be as dramatic as the choice facing these three young men in Nebuchadnezzer’s court, but there are consequences.  One of the temptations of living a life of faith is to become more and more convinced that we have understood what God expects of us.  This is what has befallen the Jewish leaders Jesus engages in today’s gospel.  Because they are children of Moses, they have convinced themselves that they know what God wants of them.  That have so convinced themselves that when this young man, Jesus, comes along, doing and saying things that don’t fit with their narrative of God’s ways, they miss it, or dismiss it, or downright reject it.  A humility rooted in a recognition that I am not God, and that often I don’t know God’s ways, can be an inoculation against presumption, and a condition for the possibility of hearing God, or seeing God, in places and in people where I least expect to hear or see God. I pray for that humility, and for the courage that such humility requires, to trust that God’s ways are not mine, and thank God for that!

Mark Doorley
Ethics Program