“No one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come”
There is a lot we could say about the meaning and importance of the “hour” of Jesus as it’s presented in the Gospel for Mass of the Friday of the fourth week of Lent. Just one of the truths proclaimed to us here has to do with God’s Providence in the unfolding of Jesus’ passion and death.
A major theme in these days of Lent is the rising tension between Jesus and those who wished to silence Him. But it is critical that we not be misled. Events are not getting out of control, as they do in so many of our political and social crises. Rather, we see in this crisis the unfolding of God’s plan for our salvation. Jesus remains in control of events.
Our Lord will say three chapters later in John’s Gospel, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18).
I would like to make a very simple point regarding our own lives. As we strive to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, as we endure the sufferings we must endure in this “valley of tears,” we should take heart in knowing that God’s hand guides the events of our lives.
Yes, sometimes God merely allows things to happen rather than positively willing them. Our Tradition teaches us that there is a distinction between God’s “positive will” and His “permissive will.” But whether He positively or permissively wills our sufferings, He is always with us to guide us and to draw us to Himself.
God is always at work, shaping our lives and our destinies. And so, as we are strengthened each time we receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, we should be able to echo these words of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), who in the little booklet Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, writes:
We must try to keep our hearts continually, unshakably serene through the vicissitudes of life. Even though everything turns and changes around us, we must ever remain steady — always looking, striving, and aspiring toward God. No matter what course the ship takes, no matter whether it sails to the east, west, north, or south, no matter what winds drive it on, the mariner’s needle never points in any direction except toward the polar star. Everything may be topsy-turvy, not only around us, but within us as well. But whether we are sad or happy, full of sweetness or bitterness, at peace or disturbed, filled with light or darkness, troubled or at rest, delighted or disgusted, experiencing aridity or consolation, scorched by the sun or refreshed by the dew — for all that, the fine point of our heart, our spirit, our higher will, which is our compass, must ever look and tend toward the love of God, its Creator, its Savior, its sole and sovereign good.
Fr. Charles Fox is a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit currently assigned to the theology faculty of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He is also a weekend associate pastor at St. Therese of Lisieux Parish in Shelby Township and chaplain and a board member of St. Paul Evangelization Institute, headquartered in Warren.