Saturday of the Fourth Week

Jesus and Nicodemus in 19th Century setting: Nicodemus listens attentively, chin in hand

 

Daily Offering

Lord I offer you my loyalty. Allow me to be a constant to others in an ever-changing world.   Chris Brolly SJ

Entering into Prayer

Recall a place where you feel at peace . . . imagine it if you can . . . or in some way get a sense of it. . . what do you notice about it . . . let the Holy Spirit be there with you . . . in the breeze or the air you breathe . .

Today's Scripture (John 7:40-52)
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.

Food for thought

Continuing from yesterday’s reading, the arguments about Jesus’ origins continue among the people. In today’s Gospel reading we hear of the guards who had been sent by the chief priests and Pharisees some days earlier to arrest Jesus. They now report back empty handed. When questioned why, the guards reply, “Never before has anyone spoken like this one.” The Pharisees accuse them of being deceived. Furthermore, while the Pharisees think they themselves are above being deceived, they accuse the crowd of ignorance and of being accursed according to the Law.

Nicodemus interrupts the smug mutterings of his fellow leaders and reminds them that the Law they are so keen to uphold does not condemn a person before first hearing him and finding out what he is doing. They cannot deny this, instead they heap abuse on Nicodemus and try to put him down by asking if he too is from Galilee. They tell him to look to Scripture and see that no prophet comes from Galilee – much less the Messiah. (Despite this confident claim, at least one prophet came from Galilee: “the prophet Jonah, son of Amittai, from Gath-hepher” (Jonah 1:1), a village about three miles from Nazareth. Those who urged Nicodemus to look at the record in Scripture should have first done so themselves!)

Finally, while they dismiss Jesus as a Galilean, his birthplace was Bethlehem in Judea and so he was from God: they are ignorant of his origin as about everything else. Ignorance is pardonable for those in the fallible human condition, but being dogmatic in one’s ignorance and intolerant of the views of others is harder to forgive.

Suggestions for Prayer

Some people who heard Jesus could not believe that God might work powerfully in such ordinary and familiar circumstances. As I reflect on my own situation, can I recognise God at work in my daily life? Nicodemus is an honest man, ready to speak up for truth. When have I had the courage to speak up for someone who was being denigrated, put down or treated unfairly? What may I need to do to stand for justice?

How are you going to respond today?

When have I been absolutely sure of something only to find out later that I was wrong? How tolerant am I of those who see things differently than I do? Perhaps today I may find a way today or this week to stand up for justice in some way.

Image for the day

Jesus and Nicodemus in 19th Century setting: Nicodemus listens attentively, chin in hand

  • What do you see in this image?

  • Can you be with Jesus in the way that Nicodemus is here, attentive and listening?

  • Talk to God about all that is on your mind today.

Examen (review of prayer)

At the end of your prayer you can look back and ask: Does it have something to say to you?

How does it make you feel? Imagine how God might reply.

Conversation: When you come towards the end of your time of prayer, talk to God about what has come up for you. End with a formal prayer, such as the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father.

Going Deeper

Read more about Nicodemus

Figures of Faith 

Another painting by Fritz van Uhde