Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92,
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Today’s gospel narrative is puzzling in its development. The exchange is presented as stemming from a remark Jesus makes “to those Jews who believed in him,” yet, as the argument evolves, Jesus is clearly addressing adversaries: “You are trying to kill me...” Since I prefer to focus this reflection on what the reading can say to us today, I will not anchor it on the argument itself, but rather on Jesus’ opening statement: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples.”
Discipleship is about commitment to the person of Jesus and to his teaching, about “remaining in his word.” And in today’s reading Jesus’ challenge to them and to us is to “DO what you have heard from the Father.” Discipleship is shown in deeds more convincingly than in words. It is about walking the walk, not about talking the talk. As Ralph W. Emerson reminded us, “what you do speaks so loudly, it does not let me hear what you say.” I do not have in mind the “faith vs. works” controversy, nor am I prioritizing doing over being, but simply emphasizing that deeds are more important than words. “Remaining in his word” cannot be reduced to reciting the Lord’s words, much less to lip-syncing them.
Because the Lord’s central command is “love one another, as I have loved you” [Jn. 15:12], today’s gospel reading presents us with a major challenge, if we are to “remain in his word.” Those, who are looking at us from the outside, want to see disciples who can image in their lives —DO— this Christ-like love passionately, not disciples who can define this Christ-like love with precision. In 1Cor. 13:4-7 Paul does not even attempt to define Christian love, he rather presents what amounts to a phenomenology of Christian love: when there is love, these things are observed —when one loves, one is gentle, one is kind, one does not put on airs... These are all things one DOES, not things one says.
Lent is a discipleship journey both for those of us who have already been received as disciples in the Catholic church and for those who are preparing to be received as such during the Easter vigil celebration, as well as for Christians of other faith traditions. Since we sense that this journey is now approaching its destination, this is a good time to look back on our Lent experience and to ask the Lord how well we are DOING “what we have heard from the Father” and Jesus has proclaimed to us.
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