Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
Just last night I was hanging around with some close friends and my dear mother (yes, she’s just that cool!). My mom was so thrilled about how cute Pope Francis was and how much she loved him, and was sharing her excitement with a motley group of college kids. She wondered where everyone was when they heard the exciting announcement, under the impression that we were all wonderful Catholic boys (not that one was a stark, stern atheist). We went around sharing where we were and how we found out (in the car on the radio, at home on the news, etc.), and one friend said he was on a forum enjoying everyone making fun of the Pope, laughing at the hypocrisy…The room went silent.
From that moment on, our kitchen was filled, not with tension, but with the inability to jump into the debate my mom and this friend were having about religion, and other things. They were fully engaged in conversation for the rest of the night! Though brief moments of arrogance on both parties’ side annoyed me a bit, I admired my mom and my friend for their self-confidence and willingness to share what they believed to be right and good. Not confidence in who they were, but in what they knew in their hearts was the truth. This faith simply excited them too much not to engage in a nightlong conversation about who God was, and what it means to be faithful. Today’s gospel demonstrates an excellent example of self-confidence and faith.
Jesus knows he is wanted by soldiers in Judea, knows that he will be killed if identified by authorities. Does he shy away from the threat of death, even if it means missing the feast of Tabernacles? Of course not! He believes in the community of faith, and their dedication to his mission. He believes that his Father is with him, and that he is safe and sound. Most of all, he believes the news he is spreading is far more important than the risk to himself for expressing what he truly believes to be true.
When have you wanted to say something, but held back? When was the last time your friends were talking about something that made you too uncomfortable to discuss? What was holding you back from speaking your mind?
There’s no right or wrong answer, just self-awareness.
Both my mom and my friend had established very solidly their beliefs, as I’m sure many of us have. There comes with our beliefs, however, the desire and drive to share them with others. I know there have been many times in my life when I wish I had shared my thoughts or opinions on a subject matter. Heck, last night I wish I could’ve shared my stance on things they were talking about. Being open to respectfully listening to the beliefs and perspectives of others, I believe it is a beautifully vulnerable and impressive thing to share one’s sincere beliefs with others for the greater good. Jesus risks his life to preach to a group of people in Galilee! What amazing faith he must have had in his vocation to do such a thing. For us, maybe we have to risk how others’ perceive us. But if we’re honest and passionate about what we have come to believe, we’ve excluded nobody from our worldview.
I challenge everyone during the final weeks of Lent to be even more confident, even more verbal, and especially more engaged in the things you hold deep in your heart to be meaningful and true. As this season of transformation comes to a close, I hope you can find time to discern if your beliefs bring you life or drain life from you.
“I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent me.”
If our faith in God and his mission for us mirrors Jesus’, it can carry us through moments of despair, or even a simple awkward conversation. For me, it doesn’t matter if you’re right or you’re wrong – it only matters if you care enough to become intimately and critically involved in your faith life. That is where you will find strength and confidence in your faith!
Johnny Dolan is the Campus Ministry Retreat Intern.