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Lent Week 4 Saturday - When Trust is Difficult

Saturday, March 28, 2009
Readings: Jer: 11:1-20, Ps 7, Jn 7:40-52

Just before the passage that we read in today’s Gospel, Jesus had been preaching during the Jewish festival of booths which commemorated the wandering of the Jewish people in the wilderness for forty years. Jerusalem is packed with pilgrims so Jesus has a large audience. We see that many Jews were deeply impressed by the substance of Jesus’ words. They recognised at once that what he said came from God for they felt that he was at least a prophet if not indeed the long awaited Christ, or anointed one. But others could not see this at all. Jesus did not fit into their fixed notion about what the Christ would be. He obviously does not fit into their expectations or categories.

So often in life we do not want to hear the message of Jesus or acknowledge his authority, compelling though it may be. Perhaps it just makes us too uncomfortable or makes demands on our lifestyle choices that we just find inconvenient. Perhaps we feel that we have met him half way or that we are doing just fine being nice and at least not hurting others. Then we realize what the extraordinary claims of Jesus require. Often one of our responses to this challenge is to try and poke holes in Jesus' right to ask anything of us. This is what the chief priests and the Pharisees do when they make the claim that this man cannot be a prophet for “prophets do not come out of Galilee”. If they bothered to investigate the truth about Jesus instead of rushing to cut him down and therefore enforce their own positions, they could have discovered that he was born in Bethlehem which is not in Galilee! 

Another temptation when challenged by Jesus' message is to shoot the messenger which can often be the Church, bishops or perhaps someone who dares to speak the truth to us. Rather than listen and enter into dialogue we can hit out as the Pharisees do to Nicodemus: “Are you a Galilean too?”

But to all who try to take up the challenge of Christ, who take the risk of moving out of their comfort zones by following him with all their struggles, weaknesses and shortcomings, Jesus offers something extraordinary: new joy, new strength, and hope that wells up to eternal life. “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water’” (Jn 7:37-38).

David Barrins OP


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