1 April, Friday — On Justification

Friday of the 4th Week of Lent

Wis 2:1,12-22
Jn 7:1-2,10,25-30

Let ussince…

Today’s first reading smacks of arrogance, impatience and even a ‘know-it-all’ attitude. If this all sounds familiar to some of you, I think you probably know that it exists in many of our ministries and parish communities. We think we know better, and then we rationalise to ourselves why we are doing things a certain way, instead of truly letting God take over. Why? Because most of the time, we want to control or influence an outcome; or, to put it plainly, achieve a certain KPI which we ourselves determine, either by a committee decision or just on our own.

Then, the rigmarole begins — we go around convincing others that our intended outcome is the right one because… that we need to do something on a certain day because…that we should pick this particular group/person/leader/ministry because…– we just want to feel good about engineering something to succeed so that we can justify our position/time/effort. After all, it is human nature to want to claim credit for a success, or push away blame for a failed project.

Lately, I have had to swallow some of my own negative sentiments because what I initially had thought were ‘mistakes’ or plans leading us nowhere actually bore significant fruit. Two weeks ago, I had to do something which I did not find any merit to, just because my boss wanted it. It went against some of the principles we had established over the years and when I ‘vented’ my frustrations, I was gently told to ‘stop sighing’ and to ‘let us just try this since…’. Lo and behold, I did the best I could and we generated a positive outcome that hitherto would never have been possible. Wisdom indeed had reared her head and showed me that perhaps I needed to be more attentive to what my new bosses want to achieve, before I start throwing cold water on their plans.

In the case of Jesus, He surely knew what He was doing as he prepared to enter Jerusalem. He was literally feeding himself to the lions. Those who were too arrogant to acknowledge that they may not have all the answers; those who misunderstood His preachings and only wanted to shut him up; those who were fearful and worried about losing their credibility and station in life. Because Jesus was like no one who came before and brought with Him disruption to the status quo, He never had a chance against the conservative thinking of the day. Shocking, isn’t it? To think that our Lord and Saviour was viewed as a rabblerouser and a troublemaker. And how easy it was, no matter how He presented himself, for those who were intent on discrediting and then murdering Him to justify their actions/thoughts.

Brothers and sisters, it is far easier to justify a wrongdoing than to convince others, including your leaders/management, why something that has never been done before is the best way forward. Because saying, “Let us continue doing this the same way since it does not require any more from anyone” is something people like to hear. And all it takes is for someone else to then say, “Let us agree to the proposal since it is ____________” is only natural.

For me, Jesus came to make us see things in a different light — His. He came to shed light on all the dark areas that we inhabit so that we wouldn’t have to justify to others why we continue to sin. During this season of Lent, let us all pause and reflect on who it is we are trying to kid by justifying our sinful actions. Because God knows it all before we even think it — He is no fool.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Abba Father, your wisdom knows no bounds and you no matter what we do to justify our actions/thoughts, even in your name, we sometimes don’t realise that we are just like the rabble who want things our way, who want things to remain the same so that we can just be comfortable. Help us to see that staying still is not what you intend for us. That we need to be constantly looking ahead, guided by your light.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for giving us hope in your love.

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