SATURDAY, FOURTH WEEK OF LENT
Reading 1: Jer 11: 18-20 Jeremiah’s readiness to suffer related in this reading fits Jesus perfectly. He too will be a trusting lamb led to slaughter.
Gospel: Jn 7: 40-53 The crowd is sharply divided over Jesus: Some think he is the Messiah, others that he is an imposter.
WE CANNOT LOVE THE PEOPLE WE JUDGE
In today’s gospel, we find a confusion among the people as a result of the popular theories concerning the expected Messiah’s origin. On the basis of Jesus’ tremendous claims, some are convinced that he is a prophet, like Elijah. Others believe him to be the Christ, the Chosen One. But there are also those who refuse to accept him as the Messiah because Scripture proclaimed that he would come from David’s city, Bethlehem, and Jesus was a carpenter’s son from Galilee. The surprising thing is that the chief priests and Pharisees, who are so tenacious in their efforts to find fault with Jesus, are unfamiliar with the story of his birth. It just goes to show they had no intention to know the truth; they only desired to impose their word as the truth and ridicule anyone who dared to raise a question or a contrary opinion. In this we see how accusations about Jesus were not because of genuine doubt but emerged from self-righteousness and arrogance.
It is here that Nicodemus, quietly and unexpectedly, speaks a word of cautious defense. He raises the question of justice and legality by simply asking, “Are we living up to the law which we profess to believe? Do we judge a man before he has had a chance to defend himself?” Nicodemus becomes for us today, the voice of conscience. His question provokes us to reflect on the way we judge others.
Aren’t there many whom we consider sinners or brand as unworthy of our friendship? And, when the sin of gossip is added to our unjust judgements, we go to the extent of even destroying their reputations. Furthermore, there are also those whom we tend to distance ourselves from, not because of their faults, but because of their place of origin. Today, we are challenged to refrain from presumptions but to engage with the other directly in a sincere conversation of respect and equality, so as to understand the truth of the person, his purposes and his actions.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 7: 2-3, 9-12 O Lord, my God, I take refuge in you.
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