By His side, in His darkest hour

LENT 2020 – Day 42

Readings: Is 49: 1-6; Ps 70: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; Jn 13: 21-33, 36-38

The text of Isaiah’s second servant song speaks of his prophetic mission assigned by the Lord God. He has a message of great import for Israel: the Chosen People are to return to the right path and fulfil their vocation as light to the nations. Holding them in high regard, the Lord God urged them to accept and then take His message of salvation to the ends of the world.

Was it a tall order? Maybe it was, but then they could always rest assured of the Lord’s help. They had only to ask with expectant faith and success would be theirs. The Lord is always our refuge, our justice; He pays heed and saves us. The Lord is our rock, a mighty stronghold. He is our hope, our trust, our help. Every person that has tasted of the Lord’s generous hand will tell of His justice, of his help; his heart will overflow with the Lord’s teachings and His mighty wonders.

What, then, was the problem with Israel? Theirs was indeed a long and sad story. They failed to appreciate the marvels and settled on trinkets. Busy with their petty lives, by and by they forgot the Lord God. They set aside the covenants and began to do their own thing. Their lack of earnestness in God’s things soon gave way to flouting His commandments. The Israelites had long taken the Lord for granted, and they finally paid the price.

Let’s face it. They betrayed the Lord… much as we do when we feign ignorance of our religious duties or are busy with our other duties. We do so because it suits us at that moment. But then, it’s not God who needs us; we need God. He is infinitely powerful and all is grist that comes to His mill. When Judas leaves the scene, Jesus talks freely to His reduced but true flock. He waxes eloquent – “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.”

Meanwhile, Jesus is in the goodbye mode: He is going back to the Father who will glorify Him very soon. He also has words of encouragement and consolation for the Apostles and for those who thirst for the living water. Not that He has any dreamy notions about men and women: He knows that we are prone to deny Him – like Peter who disowned Him at His most grievous hour. It’s not that He needed Peter; legions of angels could have come to our Lord’s rescue at that moment. It’s just that He wanted Peter to side with Him… But, of course, Jesus knew the difference between Peter’s moment of denial and Judas’ cold-blooded betrayal.

He wants us to be by His side; He wants us the warmth of our presence; Jesus wants us to be there – for Him – in His darkest hour. And why so? So that He can then pay us back a hundredfold, as is His wont… So let’s never forget the love and faithfulness of the Lord and ask for His grace, by saying, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”