Belong To What Is Above

3.20.18  Tues.  Wk 5 – Lent  (II)
Numbers  21:  4 – 9
Gospel  of  John  8:  21 – 30

†Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin.  Where I am going you cannot come.”   So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”  He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world.  That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM,* you will die in your sins.”  So they said to him, “Who are you?”  †Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.  I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.”  They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.  So †Jesus said (to them), “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.  The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.”  Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.          The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                       Belong To What Is Above

“†Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’”. (Jn.8:21)  Later in John’s Gospel, at the Last Supper, †Jesus would say to His apostles: “Where I am going, you know the way”. (Jn.14:4)  And then Thomas would respond: “‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way’?  And †Jesus said: ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life’”. (Jn.14:5-6)  So there is a clear difference in the Scriptures between those who know where †Jesus is going and those who do not.  And †Jesus gives us the criteria of which group we are in.  †Jesus says to the Pharisees: “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above.  You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world”. (Jn.8:23)

Lent is a time when we look at ourselves.  We pray, we fast, we give alms, we engage in ascetical practices to free ourselves from those sins and attitudes that keep us from union with †Jesus, that keep us bound to earthly things.  That’s why we pray and fast and give alms.

We have a little over a week to go until the end of Lent.  Have we learned – ‘The Way to †Jesus’ or – do we still belong to what is below?   Have I begun to let go – and hold on to those things – which are above?  Do we belong to this world less today than we did on Ash Wednesday?   That is the proof of a fruitful Lent: if I am less bound to the world today than I was on Ash Wednesday.  These may be difficult questions to ask our self but, our eternal destination depends upon the answers to these questions.

In the Frist Reading – the Israelites in the desert were ungrateful people.  They complained and complained and complained to the Lord.  God gave the Israelites victory over their enemies, God gave them manna to eat in the desert; God provided everything they needed, every step of the way.  They did not appreciate all that the Lord was doing for them, and they did not trust that God would fulfill His promise: To lead them into a land “flowing with milk and honey”. (Deut. 26:9). They just didn’t trust Him.  So, the Lord sent saraph serpents amongst the people who bit the people, and many of those who were bitten by the serpents, died.   But those who gazed on that molded bronze serpent on the pole, (that Moses made) with eyes of repentance and gratitude, were the ones who were saved, who were healed.

The serpent reminded the people of two things.  First: the sin of Adam and Eve.  Remember the serpent in the tree?  Adam and Eve were not grateful people.  They thought they were God or equal to God and they thought they were equal.  Secondly: the serpent reminded them that repentance leads to God’s mercy and His healing.  If we choose to repent – more than just saying words, we must actually make changes in our life.  When the people looked at the consequences of their unbelief and repented, then they were healed from the venom of the serpent.

During these last few weeks – have we at times, looked at the consequences of our lack of faith or our lack of trust in God?  Have we recognized our attitude of ‘ingratitude’ for all the blessings we have received from the Lord?  (There is a belief – that in hell – the words – Thank You – have never been spoken.  That is because everyone in hell claims to be God or to be God-like and everyone else is a false-god.)

†Jesus does not want us to remain in our selfishness and ingratitude.  He gave His life on the cross as a sign and proof of God’s absolute love for us.  And every time we look at a crucifix and see that image of †Jesus – we should say from the depths of our soul: “Thank You, †Jesus, for all that you have done for me”.  We should say from the depths of our heart, that ancient †Jesus prayer: “Lord †Jesus Christ, Son of the God Savior, have mercy on me a sinner”.

Every day, let us live with the conviction that we belong to what is above, that we are called to what is above and not with what is below.  Let us recognize the voice of †Jesus calling us – in that lonely neighbor down the street – in that needy person – in those who live in fear and – in those who live in want.   Let us live and reach out to others with love, and mercy, and compassion – with attitudes of gratitude to God for all His blessings in our life.  And if we do that, then we will hear the voice of †Jesus say: “Where I am going – you know the way”. (Jn.14:4)

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.