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March 26th - John 5: 18, 31-47

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordMarch 27, 2020
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for the readings and prayers of today's mass, please go to

https://www.livingwithchrist.ca/images/article_images/pdf/March_26_LWC_March2020-lowres-5.pdf

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What does it take to get a person to believe? And not just believe, but really believe? These questions come to mind when one considers both our 1st reading of today's mass (Exodus 32: 7 -14) and our gospel.

Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt because God told him to. In turn, the Israelites were called to obey all that Moses taught them since he spoke for God. Hence, one can easily understand why Moses was aghast when he came down Mt. Sinai to discover that the Israelites were worshiping a molten calf. They had completely forgotten how totally dependent they were on God, who liberated them from their slavery in Egypt.

Throughout the gospel of St. John we read of a constant battle between Jesus and His critics. Jesus’ critics say they rely on the Scriptures and on the authority of Moses, while Jesus claims that he is the fulfillment of the Scriptures and is the one that Moses foretold. This battle places Jesus on a collision course with His critics, particularly the Pharisees, and as we will see later, the Sadducees and the High Priest, who will demand his death for blasphemy - since He claimed, rightly so, to be equal to God. Just like the Israelites of old, they too refused to believe the truth that lay before them.

St. John is very clear in his presentation of Jesus as a far greater representative of God than Moses. For Jesus is not just the Messiah; He is the Son of God. Jesus’ credentials do not come from the testimony of John the Baptist or any person. His identity is based on an inner communion with His Father, which is displayed in Jesus’ every word and action. He does not need human testimony or approval. His astonishing works are sufficient witness that He is from God, for who else could give sight to the blind, multiply bread in the wilderness and raise the dead?

When we ponder today's readings, there is a temptation to consider them from afar. But as one person points out, these passages reminds us that the Bible should never just leave us sitting in our armchairs. It calls us to a closer personal relationship with God. It calls us to really reflect with them and see how they are relevant to our own lives. For example, are we as guilty as the Israelites in forgetting what God has done for each one of us? Are we like all the religious authorities who refuse to see the reality of God staring us in the face? It 's one thing to just read the scriptures. Its another thing to live them. Our faith demands that we live it.

We are well past the mid - point of Lent. Let's make one of our goals for the remainder of Lent to think of the Bible as not just something we read, but something we do.

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Many of us are really struggling to cope with the new realities that are upon us during this time of the COVID-19 crisis. Fr. Stephan Kappler, the President and Chief Psychologist of the Southdown Institute in Holland Landing, ON, shares some ideas that I have found helpful. I hope you do as well:

"This current storm reminds us of our human condition, our fragility, and our inter-dependence, and it is an opportunity to remember what is truly important in our lives and how we go about living. Let us remind each other of good self-care techniques, such as:

Stay informed, but take breaks from watching news stories, including social media. Identify your most trusted source of information, limit your search to that source, and identify limited times when you check information. Repeated and excessive exposure to information can become overwhelming. Separate facts from fiction.

Take care of your body. Practice mindful breathing, get some fresh air, take a walk, get plenty of sleep, and try to pay attention to your nutrition.

Identify your favorite adaptive ways to unwind and relax. Do what grounds you in healthy ways and do more of it!

Connect with others. While practicing physical distancing, find ways to meaningfully connect with loved ones, friends, and foster a sense of community, even if it is a virtual community.

Talk about your emotions, your fears, your worries. Connect with trusted others to share honestly what you are going through. Do not blame yourself or judge yourself for whatever it is you are feeling. Our emotions are there for a good reason. Sharing them often lightens the load."