by Erik Ritland
"As long as we don’t fill our God-shaped hole with God, we’re still missing something. As St. Augustine says, we don’t find our rest until we rest in God."
Fully Alive’s Lenten Scriptural Commentary helps Christians get more out of Lent by taking God’s word seriously.
Mostly avoiding personal stories and anecdotes, our commentary dives deeply into the scripture readings for each day and applies them to the broader context of Lent. We use the daily Mass readings from the Catholic lectionary.
If possible, read each passage slowly, taking in each word. If you find that you’ve hurried through a reading, read it over a few more times. Let the words reverberate in your heart. After you’ve let it sink in, read our Lenten Scriptural Commentary.
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
The Israelites turn away from God and worship the golden calf, and Jesus gives a mystical discourse.
Readings: Ex 32:7-14/Jn 5:31-47
Click here to read the complete text from the USCCB website
The LORD said to Moses,
"Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
'This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'
(cf. Ex 32: 7-14)
How quickly we run to replacements for God!
This is a universal problem, from the most devout Christian to the most apathetic atheist. There's something in our inner being that moves us to fill the void in our heart that can only be filled with God (a God-shaped hole, if you will) with practically anything else.
We grope and grasp for whatever we can to temporarily make us happy, ignoring that those things never fully satisfy us, which is why we have to keep going back to the same things over and over. Some of them are good, some bad, some neutral.
But as long as we don’t fill our God-shaped hole with God, we’re still missing something. As St. Augustine says, we don’t find our rest until we rest in God.
I have testimony greater than John's.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
(cf. Jn 5:31-47)
There is a venerable tradition that the Gospel of John was written to help convince those who thought that John the Baptist was the Messiah (these people still exist today, they’re called the Mandeans) that it was actually Jesus. That would explain why the Gospel of John focuses more on the spiritual side of John the Baptist than the other Gospels, and Jesus’ superiority to him (“I have a testimony greater than John’s”).
In this reading, Jesus refers to “the works that the Father gave me to accomplish.” This is the inauguration of God’s Kingdom on earth, which began with the passion, cross, and resurrection, and continues today with Christians living the Kingdom life that Christ commands us to by living in the way that He taught us.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. The founder of Fully Alive Christian Media, he also created The Minnesota Sport Ramble and is a writer and copy editor for Music in Minnesota. He was Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.