Homily: Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
March 20, 2015
Fr. Charlie Fox, Spiritual Director, St. Paul Street Evangelization (www.streetevangelization.com)
Jesus’ Hour and Ours
“No one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30). There is a lot that could be said about the “hour” of Jesus as it’s presented in John’s Gospel, but just one of the truths proclaimed to us here has to do with God’s guiding hand, His Providence, even in the carrying-out of Jesus’ Passion and death.
A major theme in these days of Lent is the rising tension between Jesus and those among the Jewish people of that time, especially the religious leaders, who wished to silence Him. But it is critical that we see not events getting out of control, as they do in so many of our political and social crises, but the unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation. Jesus remains in-control of events. Our Lord will say three chapters later in John’s Gospel, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).
I would like to make a very simple point regarding our own lives. As we strive to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, as we endure the sufferings we must endure in this “valley of tears”, we should take heart in knowing that God’s hand guides the events of our lives. Yes, sometimes He merely allows things to happen rather than positively willing them, but whether He positively or permissively wills our sufferings, He is always with us to guide us and to bring us to Himself. He is always at work, shaping our lives and destinies. And so strengthened by the Holy Eucharist we celebrate today, we should be able to echo St. Francis de Sales, who writes:
“We must try to keep our hearts continually, unshakably serene through the vicissitudes of life. Even though everything turns and changes around us, we must ever remain steady—always looking, striving, and aspiring toward God. No matter what course the ship takes, no matter whether it sails to the east, west, north, or south, no matter what winds drive it on, the mariner’s needle never points in any direction except toward the polar star. Everything may be topsy-turvy, not only around us, but within us as well. But whether we are sad or happy, full of sweetness or bitterness, at peace or disturbed, filled with light or darkness, troubled or at rest, delighted or disgusted, experiencing aridity or consolation, scorched by the sun or refreshed by the dew—for all that, the fine point of our heart, our spirit, our higher will, which is our compass, must ever look and tend toward the love of God, its Creator, its Savior, its sole and sovereign good.”
(Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, 11)
[Pictured: Image of the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus to the eleven remaining disciples (John 14-17) from the Maestà by Duccio, 14th Century]