March 17, 2018
by Thomas Quinn
Creighton University's School of Medicine
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 249

Jeremiah 11:18-20
Psalms 7:2-3, 9bc-10, 11-12
John 7:40-53

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Lent Prayer for Today

The Fourth Week of Lent - 31 min. - Text Transcript

Lent for the Older Brother/Sister
of the Prodigal Son/Daughter

Returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation

The prophet Jeremiah’s ministry took place during many years of turbulent Jewish history.  This is apparent in his writings, e.g., he writes that he felt “like a lamb being led to slaughter” when his enemies were plotting his demise. Jeremiah compared their plans to being felled like a vigorous tree, cut off from the land of the living.  Even though God informed him of the plot, Jeremiah did not directly pray to the Lord to save him; he instead obliquely refers to the consequences that his adversaries would pay.  Jeremiah asks only to be able to witness their punishment.  There was no entreaty to the Lord to save him, or praise for the Lord, only the assumption that God would act on his behalf because he had “entrusted his cause” to him.  Let us, in our personal struggles, not assume the vengeance of God on our adversaries, but rather, praise him more, and assume less.  God will be the “just judge” in any event.  He will love and protect us.

The psalmist, in today’s readings, also is being pursued by enemies. His initial reaction, unlike that of Jeremiah, is to entreat God to save him” from all my pursuers, and rescue me, lest I become like the lion’s prey…”  He then seems to be making a case for his worthiness for the divine help he asks for by continuing to tell the Lord that he is just and innocent.  He essentially prays, “Save me Lord, I am just; Save me, not them: Punish them, not me.”   Our response is the first line of the psalm, o Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.  This line immediately brings us to the presence of our loving God, who certainly will shelter us, even without hearing our justification for his mercy.  He is our shield. 

John, in today’s gospel reading, recounts a situation in which some people to whom Jesus is preaching begin to say, “this is truly the prophet.” Or, “this is the Christ.”  To some, this seemed improbable, since Jesus was from Galilee.  He was not from the House of David or from Bethlehem…or so the doubters in the crowd believed.  The guards reported to the Pharisees and the Chief Priest who instantly became hostile. They accused the guards themselves of being from Galilee.

If we put this passage in the socioeconomic context of the times, we realize that Galileans generally were resented or distained for their unrefined manner and their lax observance of some of the religious laws.  Their unmistakable accent when they spoke Aramaic also singled them out.  Everyone in the crowd heard the amazing words of Jesus, but many would not believe them because of the apparent origin of the speaker.  They were deaf to his message, and blind to the presence of the Messiah, primarily because of their personal bias against Galileans. If they had believed that we are all equal and loved by God, Jesus’ message would have been accepted more readily. “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?”, asked Nicodemus, a Pharisee who knew Jesus. Even today, we often hear the word of God from unexpected sources. 

Lent is full of opportunities to shed our resistance to the often subtle will of God, to accept it, and move toward the openness and love that he expects us to have for him and for our brothers and sisters.  “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”  Believe in his words.                

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