3 April 2011 4th Sunday of Lent
1 Sam 16: 1-13; Psalm 23: 1-6; Eph 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
Note: This is a scheduled post. Every article published in this blog has been written long before the 11th of March 2011, the beginning of my 30-day retreat. The rest will come out at the date and time I have programmed it in blogger. A big favor to ask: please pray for 8 Jesuits, including myself, doing the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. My prayers also for all of you who have sustained me and encouraged me to blog since 2005.
How do you find your work? Or better, how do you find working? Do you like working or do you want to escape from work? Would you rather do nothing or would you do something? Our work is very much integral in our faith. So this Sunday, we shall look closely at the things we do every day.
We hear in the Gospel today Jesus working, specifically He is healing a man born blind. During the time of Jesus, people believed that blindness – or any disease or handicap for that matter – indicated God’s punishment for a sin. So that the disciples naturally asked, “Rabbi, was it his sin or that of his parents that caused his blindness?” (John 9:2).
Jesus answered, “Neither was it a sin of either his parents or of himself. Rather, it was to let God’s works show forth in Him. We must do the deeds of Him who sent Me while it is day” (John 9:3-4). Therefore, Christ pointed out that in the healing of the sick, His work gave glory to God.
This tells us so much about the works of Jesus and how He works. By the “works of Jesus” is meant ALL His deeds. It means His supernatural deeds such as His miracles. Making the blind see, the lame walk and raising the dead to life are some examples of supernatural deeds. He also performs redemptive acts as forgiving sins and reforming sinners.
But, take note, it also includes His work as a skilled laborer. He works as a carpenter, and He is known by his neighbors as a laborer. We often overlook this. We think that God’s work is always the ‘great’ events. Think again. He earns His keep as we do today. He is very much like you and me. In theology we always say, that Jesus is 100% human and 100% divine. Not 50% this and 50% that.
We have to remember that when Jesus began his public ministry, He was 30 years old. It is most probable that before His baptism in the Jordan, Jesus was working as a carpenter, first with St. Joseph, and then by Himself after Joseph passed away.
In our lives today, we too participate in the divine work of Jesus. As parents, God makes you His instruments to establish and continue human life on earth. To rear your children wisely in the Lord is cooperating with the creative act of the Lord. As those in the health and medical profession, you establish the “order” in a person’s physical body which the illness has corrupted. So that the body is “well again” — in the words of Genesis, that everything is “good.” As lawyers, you re-establish and re-affirm the right order of society as God created it to be. As those in the restaurant business, you mend broken relationships when people kiss and make up while enjoying their dinner. Whatever we do, in whatever trade, skill or profession, we always participate in God’s creative action by providing the goods of life or by distributing them for the welfare of humanity.
So we can ask ourselves: With the specific work that I have, how do I participate with the work of God? How do I not cooperate with Him? What factors contribute or not contribute to full and active participation?
Second, the works of Jesus are always attune with the will of the Father. Every single deed is within the wavelength of God. This is a brought about by daily prayer. Jesus cooperates with His Father; His will is united to His Father’s will. He said, “My Father is at work until now, and I am at work as well” (John 5:16).
But surrendering to the will of the Father is not without struggle. Remember Gethsemane, He prayed to God, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26: 39). See how He submits His will to the Father!
In our daily tasks, we contribute to the redemption of the universe. Every day we find opportunities to practice faith, hope and charity; or we find situations to live a life of justice, prudence, prayer, peace or temperance. In our work places, there are missed opportunities because we are afraid of what people will say to us. In a culture where graft and corruption is accepted, people who wanted to do what is right are often ridiculed as “self-righteous” or “holier-than-thou.” In unjust structures, the right thing becomes counter-cultural.
Today, we can also reflect on these questions: How did I respond to opportunities to sanctify our lives? And how did I not respond to them? What inspires or prevents me from surrendering my will to the Father?
Finally, the deeds of Jesus glorify God that the crowds return to their homes praising and glorifying God. Every single deed of Christ therefore reveals God’s perfection. And when it is manifested, we experience God. In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “The fact is that whether you eat or drink — whatever you do — you should do all for the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). As Christ works in ourselves and in the world, so do we also work for the glory of God.
Aside from your ‘pious practices’ how do people see God’s glory in your daily and mundane deeds? How do you reflect the qualities of God in your actions?
Our work gives dignity and honor to ourselves. The more our works are united with the will of God, the more we become who we are meant to be — as children of God. And so we encourage everyone to work, the way Jesus works. He said, “We must do the deeds of Him who sent Me” (John 9:3).