Father David's Reflection for Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent
The Responsorial Psalm tells us that when things are going badly all is well: "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34). Opposition from others can be a consoling sign that we are authentic disciples of Jesus.
Wisdom 2: 1-22 tells us the mind set of those who are angered by people who try to live by the words and example of the Lord. The disciples are "obnoxious" to them, because their life "is not like that of others" and their ways are "different." The disciples believe their life is headed toward fulfillment - that they have a "blessed destiny" - and that they are in relationship with God as Father. All this arouses jealousy, which sometimes takes the form of persecution - anything from "trying their patience" to condemning them to death.
This kind of opposition is evidence that we are "different" in the right way. But it still makes us feel discouraged and even bad about ourselves when we experience abuse and rejection. Our consolation when we suffer this comes from knowing that "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted." This is the pain and the joy of discipleship.
In Luke 7: 1-30 we see a build-up of opposition to Jesus that will soon lead to his death. People were saying openly, "Is he not the one they are trying to kill?" And they were divided in their opinion about him.
Some doubted him because they had been taught, "When the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from," and they thought they knew where Jesus was from. Jesus tells them they are using the wrong standard of judgment. The real question is not where Jesus came from, but whether God sent him. Those who are in touch with God will be able to recognize the one he sent: "I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him." That is why they don't recognize Jesus. It is also the reason why many don't recognize the authentic teaching of Jesus.
Earlier Jesus had said, "My teaching is not mine but his who sent me. Anyone who resolves to do the will of God will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own."
Discipleship is not just knowledge. In spiritual discernment, knowledge itself depends on the response of our hearts to God (see Matthew 13:15; Mark 8:17: we "understand with the heart"). So if we want to understand the teaching of Jesus we need to convert to his values from the heart and try to live by his ideals. This will make us "different" and arouse some hostility, but we will know the Lord - and know that he is close to us. "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted."
Initiative: Be a disciple. Do something different to experience that you are.