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Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent: A lesson from the Pharisees

Saturday, March 24, 2012
Jer 11:18-20; Ps 7:2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12; Jn 7:40-53

If you've ever thought our society was going through a cultural and religious identity crisis, things were no different 2000 years ago. This was of great concern to the Pharisees – How does one live as a faithful Jew in a land that is occupied by Roman pagans? This seems like a perfectly legitimate question to ask in our own time – What does it mean to be a faithful Christian in a largely secular society?

The problem with the Pharisees is not so much this question, but the answer they give. They believed that Israel must separate itself from all Gentile impurity and defilement, because they thought this was the only way God would rescue His people from the clutches of Rome. So we hear the Pharisees in today's gospel saying 'This crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed.' The Pharisees were for separation, for casting people out who didn't fit in with what they thought it meant to be a faithful Jew. And this is a great temptation for us today. Many of us are too ready to accuse others of not being true Christians because they don't see things exactly the same way we see them. But whatever a Christian believes, they cannot undo their baptism. It is because a baptised person always remains a true Christian that division in the Church is such a serious issue. So rather than writing off those Christians who disagree with us, we should be willing to engage in deep and serious discussion which is rooted in love for them and for God. After all, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Robert Verrill OP


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