Are you feeling under attack today? Can you relate to Jeremiah or David because you have a real sense of danger from the plots again you? Perhaps, you, like Jeremiah, had some inkling that you were walking into trouble, but decided to wade in anyway. The attacks may instead be more like those posed by some in the crowd against Jesus – questioning your credibility and worth. In the gospel story we don’t hear Jesus speak, nor do we even hear here what Jesus is thinking about this debate in the crowd. No doubt Jesus saw the guards assigned to take him, perhaps lurking around the edges of the crowd arguing amongst themselves. If you are feeling under attack, consider reflecting on the story from the perspective of Jesus sensing the threat of attacks, but yet also seeing that in spite of that there are some who recognize worth in his teaching and some of these are even willing to speak up on his behalf. What can we learn about facing attack, recognizing support, and confidence in God from this perspective?
Perhaps you can relate to those in the crowd who spoke highly of Jesus only to be criticized by others. Or, perhaps you can relate to the guards who recognized that Jesus spoke a different kind of wisdom and refused to comply with the orders of the chief priests and Pharisees and then were ridiculed for it. What about the teachings of Jesus makes you confident to say that he is a Prophet or the Christ – or that he speaks like no other man? In a room full of detractors, what gives you the motivation and courage to speak up like Nicodemus to question the group-think assumptions in the room? What can we learn from this perspective on the story concerning recognizing wisdom in our midst and being willing to speak up to defend it?
We often don’t like the thought that we may be most like the Pharisees in gospel stories, but those of us who have institutional power and who are steeped in religious institutions need to always consider the ways in which we may play those roles. Are we quick to criticize others for not doing what we asked – before listening carefully to their side of the story about what happened? (I know as a parent I can often fall into this trap.) Are we confident in dismissing new ideas or questions because it doesn’t match what others like us have believed? Will we turn on one of our own who raises questions? Are we quick to dismiss new teachings and questions and content to return to our own home unchanged?
O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge – when feeling under attack and when recognizing support from others when under attack; when speaking up for You, for wisdom, for justice; and when I fall into blind protectiveness in need of a jolt out of complacency.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook