March 30, 2022
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us the deeply comforting image of God as a mother, vigilant and caring for us even in our unawareness.
In our reading from Isaiah, the Israelites recently have been freed from their long sojourn in Babylon and have returned to Jerusalem. It is a time of great joy, but also of reorientation and reflection. God, Who may have seemed to abandon them to captivity, is assuring them that is not so:
Thus says the LORD:Isaiah 49: 8-9
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!
We too may have times when we think God isn’t paying attention to us, or to the world that seems to be falling apart around us. We may be tempted to think that Divine attention is turned to us only when we demand it by intense prayer of supplication.
In Isaiah 49, God – through a outlay of abundant promises, – tells us otherwise:
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;Isaiah 49:14-15
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
In our Gospel, Jesus tells us the same things in a little bit of a different way.
My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.John 5: 17
When he says this, Jesus is in the midst of the recalcitrant, vengeful Pharisees who have placed their faith only in their own arrogance – who have come to depend only on their own wealth and power rather than on the mercy and love of God.
Jesus offers his own outlay of Divine promises, showing how he and God the Creator are One in their constant desire for each of us to share fully in the Divine Life, even to the point of taking flesh to redeem us:
For just as the Father has life in himself,John 5: 26-29
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life …
We might ask in our prayer today to be deepened in our awareness of God’s constant, loving Presence in our lives. There is no moment or circumstance that doesn’t offer us an invitation to greater grace and holiness. But, unlike the Pharisees, we must open our hearts to trust God’s Presence in all things and to find that path to God’s heart.
In these final weeks of Lent, and in this particular passage from John, we see Jesus doing exactly what we must do. As Calvary began to loom unrelentingly on the horizon, Jesus could not have found it easy to accept the path unfolding before him. But he trusted. He knew the Father was with him. He believed that he walked toward Resurrection even though all he could see was a dark lonely hill.
May our Lenten prayer let us learn from Jesus.
Poetry: Forgetting by Joy Ladin
Zion says, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her baby, or disown the child of her womb? Though she might forget, I never could forget you. —Isaiah 49:14–15 You never remember anything, do you? How I formed you in your mother’s womb; nursed you; bathed you; taught you to talk; led you to springs of water? I sang your name before you were born. I’m singing your name now. You’re clueless as an infant. When I tell you to shout for joy, you hear a bicycle, or a cat. Sometimes, memories of me come back like children you forgot you had: a garden; a bride; an image of your mother, your best friend, your brother, or a cop, or snow, or afternoon. The heavens shout; mountain becomes road; gardenias burst into song. Whose are these? you wonder. Then you forget, and feel forgotten, like an infant who falls asleep at a mother’s breast and wakes up hungry again. Your mother might forget you, child, but I never forget. I’ve engraved your name on the palms of my hands. I show you trees, I lay you down in the grass, I shower you with examples of my love— sex and birds, librarians and life skills, emotions, sunlight, compassion. Nothing connects. Every dawn, every generation, I have to teach you again: this is water; this is darkness; this is a body fitting your description; that’s a crush; these are bodily functions; this is an allergic reaction. This is your anger. This is mine. This is me reminding you to eat. Turn off the stove. Take your medication. This is the realization that I am yours and you are mine. This is you forgetting.
Music: Will Never Forget You – Carey Landry