Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 36
Wednesday in Fifth Week of Lent
“Don’t miss the point.”
Today’s Daniel and John readings have an interesting relationship. Nebuchadnezzar, an egotistical idolater, sees Shadrach’s, Meshach’s, and Abednego’s faithfulness to God, and God’s faithfulness to them, even in the fiery furnace, and exclaims at the end, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!” (Dn 3:28). The sinner becomes a believer! But compare this with today’s John reading—a conversation that began on Monday and continues until tomorrow. Jesus’ opponents just can’t figure out that they need saving. They say, “We have never been in bondage to anyone”, yet overlook that everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin (Jn 8:33-34). And these folks believed in Jesus (Jn 8:31)! It’s as though believers became sinners. They conclude, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God” (Jn 8:41). It’s a double entendre which means they were not offspring of unholy interreligious marriage with the nations like those Samaritans (c.f.: Jn 4:9), and that Jesus was an illegitimate child—was Mary really a virgin? Who really knows Jesus’ father? But their father is Abraham, even God (Jn 8:39, 41)! Now, there are times when we can also miss the point and forget that we are sinners needing salvation, because we rely too much on our spiritual pedigree—“I’m a cradle Episcopalian!”; “my grandfather was a pastor; my father was a pastor; and my husband is a pastor!”; “my family has always worshipped here!” But all who sin are slaves to sin, all of us. And all of us need Christ’s death on the Cross.
Almighty God our heavenly Father, renew in us the gifts of thy mercy; increase our faith, strengthen our hope, enlighten our understanding, enlarge our charity, and make us ready to serve thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.