March 16, 2013
John 7: 40-53
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.” Then each of them went home.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Yes or No?
A division occurred in the crowd because of him. So says today’s Gospel.
Two people hear the same teaching of Jesus. One turns away from Him. One believes in Him. How can it be? Why is one heart hardened and the other heart free?
From Galilee to Jerusalem and then across the centuries, the Jesus of the Gospels relentlessly confronts listeners with a choice: “Yes or No.” “Are you with me or against me?” The Gospel asks these questions of us today.
There is also division in our hearts. How practiced are we in discerning the spirits that move us toward the Lord and those that move us against Him?
By the way, did you notice the guards in today’s Gospel? Not only have they said “We are with you” to the Lord, but their actions give testimony to their faith. They don’t grab Jesus and bring him back to the Pharisees. They also dare to speak up to the Pharisees. “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”
I am guessing that temple guards were not high on the social ladder or pay scale. They encounter derision and risk their jobs because they believe in the Lord. These guys are heroes! What about you and me?
—Ted Munz, S.J., Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Lord, in the coming hours we likely will wrestle with today’s Gospel question: “Are you with me or against me?” We pray that your Spirit awakens us to the gravity of such moments. Though the occasion may appear quite routine – the attraction of negative conversation, the comfort of agreement to stay on another’s good side, or a silence that betrays another’s good name or good work, we pray for the courage to be faithful to you by being faithful to others. And when we look back over this day, Lord, may gratitude, peace, and promise be our gift.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
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