Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
“But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”
These words of the Pharisees in today’s Gospel sound cruel. They assume the people are ignorant of the Law and that the crowd is an uneducated group. However negative this may sound, we can easily see that the Pharisees were concerned with ensuring that the orthodox faith was passed on and taught, which they believed they were preserving through their adherence to the Law. Unfortunately for the Pharisees, John portrays them as an arrogant elite, only concerned with the mechanics of the faith, and not worried about the needs of others and the social justice issues facing the masses of Israelite people. While this may or may not be an accurate depiction of the Pharisees, it is a call to reflect on our own balance of law and moral actions.
When have we taken the role of the Pharisees? Have we ever forgotten that believing the laws of the orthodox faith coincides with acting toward others according to this same faith? Following in the example of Christ, belief is a call to action. We must be cautious that we do not criticize those who are not as well versed in the faith, as the Pharisees did, but rather that we see the faith of people through their interactions with others. Those who "do not know the law" are not accursed, but rather an opportunity for growth in the faith!
Graduate Student, Saint Paul Seminary/School of Divinity