God’s Favorite Miracle

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Mass-Blog-for-the-Fifth-Sunday-of-Lent-2023.mp3)

This Sunday’s gospel reading about Jesus restoring life to Lazarus has a section that’s often overshadowed by that great miracle (Jn 11:1-45). In it, Jesus teaches his disciples about the new life he is giving THEM. When Jesus tells them of his plan to return to Judea and restore life to Lazarus, they say:

“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”

Jesus answers, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 

That light is God’s Holy Spirit, and as Sunday’s first reading shows, it was promised to us as far back as the days when Egyptian slave holders buried humans alive in the darkness of slavery to this world (Ez 37:12-14):

When I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live. 

As Paul tells the Romans in the letter we read Sunday, Jesus fulfilled his Father’s promise (Rom 8:8-11):

If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.

The process of living with that spirit as we fulfill our missions in life will help us answer the question Moses asks God at the beginning of Exodus. After God explains the calling to lead his people out of slavery, Moses asks, “Who am I?”

That’s a question we must all wrestle with.

In this age of artificial intelligence, when students are using their “devices” to write term papers for them, it gets more difficult to answer that question for God or for ourselves. Artificial intelligence, when applied as a crutch instead of a tool, is leading to genuine ignorance. It’s becoming a real problem in our education system and in our daily dealings with each other.

Some scholars believe schools should ditch term papers and go back to the Socratic method of teaching. That requires students in a classroom forum to answer questions put to them in defense of, or as proof of, what they’ve learned.

This learning process, like the living process, reveals who we are—to ourselves and to others. Done right, it also reveals the person God made us to become. As we ponder the wisdom of the Holy Spirit reflected in the readings for this last Sunday of Lent before Palm Sunday, let’s work hard at learning the answer to Moses’ question: Who am I? The wisdom rising from the resulting death of our ignorance is one of God’s favorite miracles.

–Tom Andel

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