Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
April 12th, 2011
John Schlegel, S.J.

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Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent
[252] Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 102:2-3, 16-18, 19-21
John 8:21-30

As I begin this reflection it is snowing in Omaha, bombs are falling on Libya and radiation is making its way across the north of Japan.    These are all grounds for complaints; complaints from the casual to the deadly:  “When will winter end?” “Who will save us from this situation?” “What have we done to deserve this?”  Both nature and man throw deadly bolts of destruction which disrupt life’s patterns. In the first reading the Israelites crossing the desert complained about the quality of food and drink and travel conditions. In the gospel both the people and the disciples were confused about Jesus’ fate. They did not understand what he was saying and challenged/queried him about his intentions.  In these responses human nature is at play.

In day to day living we all complain about something—some small and some significant.  Our complaints are quiet and personal or quite loud and public.  In today’s readings the complaints are the latter, loud and public.  We complain about persons, places and things—all quite human.  Today’s readings focus on the peoples’ discontent with God and with the actions of God in the person of Jesus.  This is a complaint of a different texture than our grumblings about the weather, a sports team, a meal, parking, politicians or even the in-laws!

In this fifth week of Lent you might reflect a bit and then ask yourself the question: do you have any complaints about God?  Any resentment towards God?  Any old unhealed wounds in your relationship with God?  Do you grumble under your breath about God’s fairness or God’s mercy or God’s forgiveness?  Are you agitated by God’s apparent generosity to others?  Are you unmoved by the plight of those in great need of God’s justice?  Are you close to imitating the disposition of the Israelites in the desert – unappreciative of what God is doing for you; doubting God’s care for His people?  Or is your complaint more like the stubborn lack of understanding of the Pharisees in refusing to believe that Jesus was the son of God and on a mission from his father?

The timing is right for this exercise because we are nearing the cusp of Holy Week when “the Son of Man will be lifted up.”  As the Lord said to Moses in the first reading:  “Make a seraph and mount it on a poll and whoever looks at it will live.”  How much more life saving and life giving is the crucified Jesus when He is lifted up on Good Friday as our Savior and Lord!

Surface your complaints about God, your resentments toward God and make the words of today’s psalm your words: “O Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come to you. Hide not your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; in the day when I call, answer me speedily.”

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