Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Jeremiah 11:18-20, Psalm 7, John 7:40-53
Today’s readings depict troubled times for Jeremiah and Jesus. Jeremiah recognizes that the people of his own city are plotting against him, with a plan to destroy him totally, “cut him off from the land of the living.” The truth he has spoken to them no doubt raised their ire to the point of seeking his demise. Yet the Prophet trusts God to be cognizant of his plight and to judge his enemies according to truth. The Psalm response reinforces his conviction that he will be saved from all his pursuers, “O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge.”
Jesus, too, encounters a hostile and unbelieving audience. The reaction of the authorities gives indication of their animosity: “Who does he think he is, coming from GALLILEE, from whence no prophets came, after all?” (Conveniently forgetting that Jonah and Nahum did come from there.) These adversaries are probably irritated by the guards who say, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”
Nicodemus offers helpful counsel: How about first hearing what Jesus has to say and what he is doing? To truly listen to another, it is necessary first to overcome prejudices about the person – whether it is their place of origin, their education, or their lineage. For Jesus the prejudgment against him was no doubt based on the jealousy of his foes. Their status and their authority were threatened. Nicodemus, a secret friend of Jesus, was calling them out on their resistance to the truth, the power of his teachings, of his very way of life.
The exchange among the enemies of Jeremiah and of Jesus demonstrate how a closed mind and a deaf ear can twist one’s perception. As often as I find myself not listening, I am reminded of the dangers of such behavior. Let us pray for a truly open heart in each new encounter so that we may grow in the wisdom of the good words that can too easily pass us by.
Sr. Katarina Schuth, OSF