Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – March 31, 2022
4th Week of Lent, Thursday, Year C
Readings: Ex 32:7-14; Ps 106:19-20,21-22,23; Gospel Jn 5:31-47
Theme: Salvation in Our History
There is an old saying, “learn the mistakes of the past so as not to repeat them in the future.” If we do not listen to our parents or grandparents, we risk repeating their mistakes. Without that knowledge, we will suffer similar setbacks and grumble about why we did not pay attention. The past is a great teacher of the future.
As a society we do a pretty good job of writing and documenting our past, yet how many people really pay attention to it? How many of us slept through our history class at school or did the minimum to get a passing grade in Sociology? Did we ever wonder where some of the things we use, do, or say come from, and the trials and tribulations people incurred to make them possible? Far too often we take history for granted and end up repeating those same mistakes. The Hebrew people (Israelites) did it over and over in the times of their judges and kings. Modern society is no different having gone through so many wars, riots, social norms against God, and now the invasion of Ukraine. Have we really learned anything?
We see in today’s readings that the Jews have forgotten their past and the lessons learned so long ago in Moses’s time. God, through Moses, delivered the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt and to freedom. Yet, after all the signs God did through Moses such as plagues and pestilence in Egypt against Pharaoh, parting of the Red Sea, etc., the people rebelled against God and Moses at Mt. Sinai. They had lost their faith and commitment to God because of the long absence of Moses on the mountain. They reverted back to their Pagan rituals and sinned a great sin in God’s sight. At this, God was going to destroy them, but Moses intervened and convinced God to stay his hand and spare the Hebrew nation from destruction.
In the Gospel, we see a similar pattern. The Jews have witnessed great signs and wonders being done by Jesus and yet, they do not believe. Jesus argues with the Jews that He is the Messiah they have been waiting for, but they continue to ask for proof of His claim. Jesus says that the proof they are looking for is in the testimony of John the Baptist and in the works Jesus does with God His Father. If they do not believe Jesus’s words, you would think they would believe His works of healing, raising the dead, and feeding the people.
The Jews are committing the same sin of rejection of Jesus as the Hebrew people did of Moses at Mt. Sinai. They just cannot believe that their Messiah would be a lowly wanderer from Nazareth, the same disbelief the Hebrew people had of Moses when, after 40 days, he finally appeared with the Ten Commandments claiming God had written these laws on Mt. Sinai.
After all the disbelief at Mt. Sinai, Moses saved the Hebrews by pleading with God for their lives and thus God relented in His wrath and spared them. Jesus does the very same thing only in a much greater way. Even though the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, He pleaded with the Father and saved them and all of us by dying on the cross. The Jews lost faith but gained a path to salvation in Christ if they believe in Him, just as the Hebrews did with Moses at Mt. Sinai.
Learn from the past and gain the knowledge of those who came before us. If you do, you will find the salvation of your soul in the lessons of our forefathers.