Today’s Scripture Readings
There are several things going on in the readings today. So I think it’s important to focus in on one. The Psalm says, “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” If we hear nothing else today, that is worth taking deeply into ourselves and savoring.
Too often our lives are cluttered with activities, obligations … and things we really want to do. Here is a gift of peace that could change us when we are frightened and brighten our days when the pressure of those schedules and other’s demands overwhelm us. “Those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”
This, to me, is the heart of prayer. No doubt at some point you have read or heard about a study that is run by some scientist who is trying to find out if prayer is effective. They are trying to measure one person’s or a group’s prayer to see if it changes some outcome for someone else. The results are often inconclusive, because it is the wrong question. Prayer is an expression of our relationship with God and no doubt there are changes but they are in us. We who were sad or frightened or heartbroken have been changed. That is the reality of prayer. It is as John’s Gospel says, “He does not ration the gift of his Spirit.”
So we can be confident that no matter how disheartened or frightened we may feel, God’s Spirit can lift us out of it if we are open to it. We need to believe in God’s presence right here, right now. That’s what believing in Jesus means. God is available to us in the midst of today’s life, in the current moment and whatever is happening for us.
We also have to recognize that this uncertainty, not being sure what Jesus can do, is not new. In the reading from John, the testimony of John the Baptist is saying, Jesus, the one from heaven, tells people what he has seen and heard but “no one accepts his testimony.” Lots of people didn’t believe it when Jesus was standing right in front of them.
Now, thousands of years later with the advantage of Church history, generations of saints and our own life of faith, it can still be difficult to accept that God is here for us and will give us what we need to overcome hard times. Today’s Psalm is really quite explicit, “many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all, the Lord delivers him.” It doesn’t say many are the troubles of bad people, but many are the troubles of the just, and I would add, holy people. There really isn’t any question that bad things happen to good people. The only question is, will we believe, especially when we are “brokenhearted and crushed in spirit” that God can make a difference?
Well … Jesus is Risen, He is truly risen. Alleluia!
That should be our answer.