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4th Week of Lent, Friday, Mar 27th

Wisdom 2:1, 12-22 / John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30 
Jesus continues speaking to the Jews: “I did not come on my own.”

In 1945 Igor Gouzenko, a staff member of the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, decided to defect to the Canadian government. He took with him secret documents exposing a Russian spy ring. Gouzenko was shocked to discover that the Canadians didn’t believe his story. It was too incredible. Finally, Ottawa police took Gouzenko into protective custody, but only after embassy goons broke into his apartment and wrecked it. Nothing is more painful or frustrating than trying to deal with people who find your message too incredible to believe. Jesus, too, knew this kind of pain and frustration. His message was also too incredible to believe.
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How do we handle frustration? “The only real failure is to quit.” Anonymous
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Generally speaking, we may think that good and kind people will be respected, and that religious and holy people will be looked up to. More so when we see pictures or images of saints that give us a feeling of serenity and tranquillity and we tend to think that good and kind, holy and religious people have no problems and worries in life. But a serious examination of the lives of these people will tell us quite a different story.

For example, Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot for speaking up against violence and injustice, St. Maximilian Kolbe was tortured and finally killed for offering to take the place of a condemned prisoner, Martin Luther King was assassinated for speaking on human rights and Gandhi was also assassinated for advocating non-violence in the struggle for independence.The list of good and kind people being persecuted goes on and on, and that makes us re-think our assumptions on how good and kind people are treated.

The 1st reading also state likewise. It gives us an idea of how the godless or wicked people will think in their misguided reasoning. In short, the wicked and evil people have no hope that holiness will be rewarded and they can see no reward for blameless souls. Even Jesus, the Son of God had to face persecutions and evil intentions of harming Him as we heard in the gospel. Yet just as the truth will prevail, so will goodness and holiness.

But we have to persevere. The lives of the saints and holy people tell us this: goodness and holiness will always face persecution from evil and wickedness. But just as Jesus triumphed over evil and death, let us persevere in doing good and leading holy lives so as to share in the victory of Jesus.
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Friday of 4th Week of Lent - Liturgy

THE SUFFERING SERVANT 

Introduction 
Men and women who claim to know God a bit and to live consistently as his sons or daughters, are queer and bothersome to unbelievers as well as to those who take their religion as a set of duties or religious rites. There is no place for such eccentrics who go against the current, for their way of life disturbs the established ways of society. It irritates unbelievers and they want to test the faith of those who trust in God. One has to conform or else... The person who voices his plaints in the Book of Wisdom was one of those annoying people. Jesus was another. What about us? 

Penitential Rite:
-When the just cry out, the LORD hears them, and from all their distress he rescues them, LHM
-The LORD is close to the broken-hearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves, CHM
-Many are the troubles of the just man, but out of them all, the LORD delivers him, LHM

Opening Prayer 
Our God and Father, we claim to be your sons and daughters, who know that you love us, and that you call us to live the life of Jesus, your Son. Give us the courage to live this life consistently not to show off, not to reprove others, but simply because we know that you are our Father and we your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Commentary 
Evil finds good intolerable. It will do whatever it can to eradicate it. This is what comes to the fore in today’s reading from Wisdom. Evildoers plot against the just person. Why? Because he is a reproach to them. He follows the path of righteousness, claiming God as his father. Therefore, he is to be tortured and handed over to death. If he is all that he claims to be, God will deliver him. Once again it is question of rejecting the message by killing the messenger. Jesus fares no better at the hands of his accusers. His opponents claim that his origins are a matter of common knowledge. But when the messiah comes, his origins will be unknown. Jesus came from Nazareth, a small northern town and a biblical nonentity. In short, Christ had no noteworthy credentials and thus was worthy of rejections. But they have failed utterly in determining Christ’s real origins. The true believer knows that Jesus’ origins are with the Father who sent him into the world. In knowing neither the Father nor the Son, Jesus’ enemies are far from the truth. This is the great irony of John’s Gospel. Many of those who had seen and experienced Christ remained far from him. They never took the leap of faith. It is one thing to fail to respond to God’s call; it is quite another to try to rewrite the script. It is better to say simply and directly, “Lord, I am a sinner.” In an effort to make wrong seem right, we only do damage to ourselves. We are only one step from forgiveness. It is far better to admit our sin than to try to make black be white. Lord, be merciful to me a sinner. 

Points to Ponder 
Faith in the origins of Jesus
The antithesis between good and evil
Admitting, and not excusing, guilt 

Intercessions
 – For those who are persecuted for their faith and for their persecutors, we pray:
– For those to whom life seems a burden hard to bear, that they carry their cross with the Lord and find relief and happiness, we pray:
– For those who are challenged because of the good they do, that the Spirit of the Lord may give them the strength to persevere, we pray: 

Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord our God, your Son Jesus was rejected by those whom he came to save. In this Eucharist he is with us now as our Lord who died for us but rose again. May we welcome him with love and commit ourselves with him to the good of our neighbor. May our lives bear witness to him, that no one may reject him now on account of us, for we claim him as our Lord and Savior for ever. 

Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God, we pray you especially today for those whom you send to bring the good news of your Son to the world. Give strength to all who have to bear witness in difficult circumstances, like your missionaries, that they may not lose heart but remain faithful and close to you and to Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord for ever. 

Blessing 
Let our lives bear witness to the Lord, who was persecuted and suffered so that we may have forgiveness and life. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.