Readings and Reflection for April 1, Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

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FIRST READING
“Let us condemn him to a shameful death.”
A reading from the Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22)

Ungodly men reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange. We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.” Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them, and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hope for the wages of holiness, nor discern the prize for blameless souls.

The word of the Lord

RESPONSORIAL PSALM  Psalm 34: 17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23 (R. 19a)
R/. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted

The Lord turns his face against the wicked
to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
When the just cry out, the Lord hears,
and rescues them in all their distress. R/.

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted;
those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
Many are the trials of the just man,
but from them all the Lord will rescue him. R/.

R/. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.

He will keep guard over all his bones;
Not one of his bones shall be broken.
The Lord ransoms the souls of his servants.
All who trust in him shall not be condemned. R/.

Gospel Acclamation Matthew 4:4b
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

GOSPEL
“They sought to arrest him,‘ but his hour had not yet come.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (John 7:1-2.10.25-30)

At that time: Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him. Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand. But after his brethren had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from; But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.

The Gospel of the Lord

TODAY’S REFLECTION
Christ said in Matthew 16:24 “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Also in Matthew 10:38, Jesus added: “He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
In fact the only way to make sense of the Christian life is to look at it from the perspective of a cross. Being a Christian is not a ticket to a life of luxury, peace and comfort, it is rather an invitation to a road less travelled; it is standing for what is right and having to face the ridicule, insults, oppression, pain and humiliation of many who practically belong to this world.
Jesus knew exactly what he was saying when he said those who will follow him must be prepared to carry the cross. He knew that anyone who tries to serve him diligently in this world will surely not find it easy at all. He or she must have to swim against the tide because wickedness and evil is more popular than good.

The Christian life is a battle yet we are not wrestling against people (flesh and blood) but against principalities and powers who work through people to make life difficult and tough for anyone who strives to serve God. Ephesians 6:12. These principalities and powers are not visible but their manifestations are very obvious. We sometimes assume people are enemies but the truth is that we have only one enemy; the thief who comes to steal, to kill and to destroy. John 10:10.

If we do not realize that we are carrying a cross, there is a tendency for us to drop it without even knowing. We could actually forget what the Christian life is about and begin to serve other gods unknowingly by making a priority of comfort, wealth and fame. This is what the gospel of prosperity does. It is a distortion of what the Christian life is about. If we forget that the Christian life is a cross, we would not understand why we can’t have bread in place of stones, why we can’t have the glories of this world or why we just can’t be popular or have people respect us. These are the temptations of Jesus and the same temptations we constantly face and the only way we can overcome any temptation is to choose the cross.

Dear friends, do not give up on righteousness. Do not drop the cross. Do not be discouraged when the going becomes tough and you don’t feel like moving on anymore. Do not be taken aback by insults. Jesus’ nickname was “Beelzebub.” Do not get tired of being good even when your goodness is used against you. Do not stop forgiving people, you have only one enemy; the devil. Do not seek after life only on earth, be prepared even to let go of your very life in exchange of a better life in heaven

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