|Tuesday of Holy Week
Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
John 13:21-33, 36-38
“In God Alone”
We are accustomed to defining the process of human maturity as moving from a radical dependence (on parents and others), at birth and in the earliest years of life, to a gradual independence and then to some form of interdependence (friends, spouse, the larger network of acquaintances, etc.). True as this pattern may be, there is a missing element in that neat summary, without which we cannot really say we are “mature” in a Christian sense.
The shocking truth of the limits of human dependability is brought home to us in the events leading up to the passion and death of Jesus. We are familiar with the dark character of Judas and almost expect his last minute betrayal. But it is the fearful denial of Jesus by his friend, Peter, that drives home to us the fact that no purely human relationship is infallibly faithful.
We hear the words of today’s psalm as a prayer of Jesus to his Father: “For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother’s womb you are my strength.” In Jesus’ abandonment by his friends, he calls upon his Father to be his strength and support, a strength he has known “from his youth,” “from his mother’s womb.” To know our dependence on God, from the very beginning of our life to its conclusion, is the height of Christian maturity. It is the wisdom of Jesus himself. In the words of another psalm, “In God alone is my soul at rest.”
To be clear about God’s fidelity helps us to recognize the beauty of human attempts to mirror that fidelity, but also to know the limits of our human capacity to be faithful. When we recognize that God’s dependability is like none other, we are less likely to idolize human relationships and to demand from others (friends, spouses, etc.) the kind of dependability only God can grant.
As we witness the resolute dependence of Jesus on his Father in the
events of this Holy Week, we are invited to pray for a true knowledge of
our own dependence, on God alone.
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