Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent Reflection

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Today’s Reflection was written by Brooklyn Associate John Gillen.

Even if you do not believe me, believe the works.

[John 10:38]

In John’s gospel we hear how the Jews charged Jesus with blasphemy because he claimed to be the Son of God and he made himself equal with God. To the Jews there was no way Jesus could be the Son of God. After all, the Son of God would come in a more elaborate and majestic state – or would he? No. Jesus lived among the people. He walked their roads, ate at their tables, comforted the grieving, and even partied with the tax collectors. His works were not edicts from a throne but instead acts of charity and love at their level. This sense of availability and one-on-one witnessing is what Ryken challenged his brothers to emulate. {NOTE: It is what I am happily seeing in Pope Francis too}

Ryken urged the brothers in the early years to live ad gentes. By living and working in this “communion” with the people they would be in harmony with them as they journeyed to Christ. Today, as brothers, associates, collaborators, and friends of Ryken we are faced with that same challenge. Let’s be honest though when this ad gentes is “true” it could be threatening as it must have been for those Jews in John’s gospel. Human nature has us conditioned that we do something for something. But, as a true disciple of Christ we do something for someone. This could be threatening to others but freeing for us. Although, easier to “give in” to that temptation, it is in that true ad gentes that we walk with Christ to Calvary and are able to experience the resurrection.


Recommended Exercise

As we journey to the Cross with Christ next week I offer the challenge to assess your works of charity this Lent. Offer each of them to God in prayer today. In doing that reflect upon each experience asking yourself:

• When I did something for someone else was I free from the attitude of repayment?
• Was I genuine in my service?
• Were my acts done as a “down payment” for something in exchange at some future date?

Once we are able to free ourselves of this expectation we can then live in harmony with one another; thus experiencing the joy of the resurrection.



Awesome and powerful God, we ask for the courage to live the radical life of communion on the margins. Make us a home in the desert, so that we may manifest Your care and compassionate love to those who are marginalized among us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother. Amen.


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  1. Chris Spahr says:

    Thanks John for the great reflection!

  2. Bro. Tom Murphy says:

    Thanks, John, for your reflection. You do us proud. The relevance and depth of your reflection were awe inspiring and so helpful to all of us who strive to live the principles which animated Theodore Rylen. What a great gift we have in one so young who is such a credible witness to Jesus!

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