March 12, 2016

The Gospel Today

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

John 7:40-53

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said,
“This is truly the Prophet.”
Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?
Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family
and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”
So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him,
but no one laid hands on him.

So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees,
who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?”
The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”
So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived?
Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?
But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”
Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them,
“Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him
and finds out what he is doing?”
They answered and said to him,
“You are not from Galilee also, are you?
Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Then each went to his own house.

Reflection (Sem. Arnel A. Calata Jr.)

3.12

 

The people surrounding Jesus in the Gospel narrative today have different notions of who He is. Some recognized Him as “the prophet,” others “the Christ” or “the Messiah” who is to be the savior foretold in the Old Testament. Others are doubtful and consider Him as extraordinary man with extraordinary power.

It is sad to think that even those who personally experienced how Jesus preached with authority and cured the sick failed to recognize God’s gracious presence in their lives. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, was one of them. Nicodemus, who also had a compelling personal encounter with Jesus and had something deep within him that pushed him not to condemn Christ (cf. John 3:1ff). He seemed to be undecided, doubtful and, most of all, not willing to stand firm for Christ who was, at that time, being mocked and persecuted. He might have been afraid of what the other Pharisees would say about him.

Today, many of us are like Nicodemus. We experience Jesus in our personal lives. We receive bountiful graces and gifts from Him. We receive Him through the Eucharist and He forgives us through the sacrament of reconciliation. Most of all, we receive new life through His self-offering on the Cross.

Yet, most of the time, we neglect His presence in our daily lives. How? In the little events of turning away from Him, we fail to stand firm for Him. In the many little instances of not recognizing His presence in our brothers and sisters who are poor and needing our attention, i.e. in a friend who is in despair, in our parents who ask a fraction of our time, in a hungry child we encounter on the street.

We fail to recognize Jesus in them and just be passive even if we have the capacity to help and to reach out. What we care about are our own concerns and what others would say.

Today, we are challenged to stand firm for what we believe in, to stand firm for Jesus. He gives us the courage to stand firm for Him. Forget about what others would say and just do what is right. Little acts of goodness and charity are big leaps to stand firm for Jesus!

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