He said to them, ‘You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world‘.
Day Thirty of Lent: Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent – John 8
“He said to them, ‘You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world” -Jn 8:23.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
Today’s gospel message must have been confusing for the people listening. They couldn’t comprehend who Jesus was, and even those who believed in Him struggled to grasp the enormity of who was standing before them. Hearing Jesus say moreover, that they could not go where He was going (yet) and that He was from a different world must have made them feel even more confused.
There may be days in our own spiritual lives when we feel the same – disconnected, distant, a little frustrated. We are, after all, from this world and our Lord is not. So what do we do to reconcile this chasm so often felt in our hearts? Well for starters, we should look to the leaders of our faith. If we look to our spiritual masters throughout history – the Desert Fathers and Mothers, monks, nuns and canonized saints – for example, we see the ways they created this “other world” within this earthly world. They did so by unceasing prayer – seeking out silence, solitude and simplicity with God and with zealous intention.
In her book The Soul of a Pilgrim, Christine Valters Paintner talks about how the ancient Celts sought out the “thin veil” between Heaven and earth, those times and places where God’s presence is most palpable. “The Irish knew that the physical desert landscape could not be found in the lush terrain of their island, but [rather] the spirit of the inner desert, the cave of the heart … found within. We [too] are called to cultivate that interior space…”. In other words, while the spiritual distance can sometimes feel distant it really isn’t. God is with us, the Holy Spirit resides within us, but as pilgrims the universal call is to be like Christ. This means we are not to be lovers of this world; rather, we are to remain rooted in Him until the very end of time.
Today’s Lenten Meditation
Think of the space within your home. For today, this is your world. What feelings come up when you think about it? Is it overflowing with stuff or stripped to the basics? In this space, can you create a spiritual desert, a sacred place that you can retreat to once a day even for just a few moments in order to close that spiritual divide through prayer, contemplation and special time with your Heavenly Father? If you make a special place for a special time with God, you will meet Him face to face.
Additional Readings for Today
Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30
Lord Jesus, we so often fix our attention on the material world instead of the Heavenly realm in which You reside and of which surrounds us. Please Lord, give us the grace to fix our eyes on You, seeking out those silent desert spaces within our often cluttered and chaotic lives. You are our sole source of Truth, love and light. Thank You for leading us upon the path of everlasting. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, amen.
Today’s Suggested Penance
Set up a sacred space in your home and help a friend set up one as well.
“How sweet the presence of Jesus for the longing, harassed soul! It is instant peace, and balm to every wound” -St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.