Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent

John 7:40-53

Discussion about the Origins of the Messiah

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

The guards sent by the Chief Priests and Pharisees were unsuccessful in arresting Jesus. For, they were astonished and amazed when they heard Him preaching and saw Him performing miracles. He brought sight to the blind, the lame walked again and he even cast out evil spirits. Jesus words have power and authority that whoever listened was moved to repent and follow Him.

The Chief Priests and Pharisees did not accept Jesus as the Messiah primarily because he was of Galilean origin. They accused and condemned Him without examining His case. The leaders claimed that Jesus has not convinced anyone who was educated and therefore He was not the Messiah. They used their power and authority to persuade the crowd against Jesus.

In our life, how often do we accuse and condemn others without even listening to their side? Is it because we always think that we know the truth better than anybody else? (Bro. Rudyard Bartolome, SVD Bible Diary 2002)

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No one who listens to Jesus will remain untouched and unchanged. Even the soldiers in today’s gospel reading who were sent to apprehend Jesus had listened to Him and then came back empty-handed. Their report was curt, obviously, showing how touched they were when they said: “No one has spoken like that before!”

When we listen to the words of Jesus, we cannot remain unchanged either. When we put them into action, then we will even have a better understanding of what it means to be the “Living Word.” (Fr. Carlos Lariosa, SVD Bible Diary2004)

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“You missed half of your life!” This is a common expression to stress an overwhelming and/or exciting experience not shared by someone. In matters of food the expression used to describe heavenly taste is: “taste it and you’ll forget your name!”

The guards who were sent to arrest Jesus came back to their lords empty-handed. Asked by the chief priests and Pharisees why they did not bring Him in, they replied: “Never before has anyone spoken like this one.” The words of Jesus must have struck the hearts of these hardened and calloused men. They forgot to do their job. They were overwhelmed by His words. The season of Lent is a time to heighten our contact with the Word of God. Listening to it in the liturgy, reading it in the Bible, loving it and putting it into practice, bringing healing and health to our heart, mind and body and breathe new life into our soul.

The priests and Pharisees in the gospel missed a great religious experience. Their theological wrangling ended in the aridity of argumentations and discussions. “Jesus is not someone about whom to argue; He is someone to know, love and enjoy.”

If we live by bread alone, we will miss not only half of our life but our whole life.” (Fr. Atilano Corcuera, SVD Bible Diary 2006)

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A true leader is a deliverer, someone who delivers people from poverty, disillusionment and despair.

Similarly in the gospel, the people of Israel waited for the Messiah/Christ who would deliver them from the foreign occupation of Rome. But the Pharisees and scribes rejected Jesus and doubted His Davidic origin. The people were divided because of Him. Some believed in Him but others did not. This created division and confusion.

The Chief Priests and Pharisees discredited Him and even planned His elimination. To them, he was a threat to their position of authority and would lose their credibility among the people if they would not do something. Nicodimus came to intervene but was rebuffed.

Jesus resolved the issue of true leadership by exemplifying service to others. Service is to regard the common good over and above self-interests; to profess charity above the demands of justice even in an unjust society; to give more to the less privileged and marginalized beyond what is legally just for them; to be ready to sacrifice oneself and step down from one’s comfort zones of wealth/power so that others may live in more human and decent living conditions. (Fr. Jose Mirabueno, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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The story is told about a boy who was named “Amazing” by his parents. When he was growing up, he sort being called “Amazing” by everyone, but soon he became the butt of jokes because of his name.  When he himself became a father, he asked his children to promise that his name will not be written on his tomb so that people will forever forget his name. But you know what happened? Every time a person would see his tomb with no name – only his date of birth and date death – he/she would shake his/her head saying “That’s Amazing!”

Jesus was an amazing person and controversial too. He was a sign of contradiction, one who literally divided the house of Israel. Some people believed in him, but many did not. He lived as a prophet, proclaiming gospel truths and values no matter what. He died as a prophet, rejected, condemned and killed by the very people he loved.

We too are called to become prophets. We should tell the world not what it likes, but what it needs to hear. How far simpler to be quiet or not to “rock the boat”? How far simpler indeed to play safe, and just say what is acceptable, beneficial and popular.

Indeed, may neither fear nor favour prevent us from proclaiming the Word of God. At the end of our lives we not hear our Lord tells us to depart from him because we were ashamed of him or deserted him in exchange for worldly convenience and offerings.

Instead of specializing on “placing,” let us focus on pleasing the Father! (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2014)

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I remember an elderly SVD Brother who would always find it hilarious retelling story which he had heard from somewhere. The story tells of two friends who were discussing over a certain matter but they could not agree and would end up quarrelling and shouting at each other. They would then consult a third friend who, after listening to both, simply said to one: “You are right in what you said.” And then he turned to the other and said the same: “As for you, you are right too.” He was playing safe.

In the gospel for today, Jesus was the source of discord. Some said he was a prophet; others said he was the messiah. Still others said he could not be the messiah for he was not known to be of David’s descent, but only a carpenter from Nazareth. As to who was right or wrong, can we say that Nicodimus was playing safe like the third person in our story who would not declare a clear stand regarding the question?

Today, in some instances and situations, Jesus continues to be a source of division and misunderstanding. But to us, thanks to the gift of faith given to us, we do not doubt that Jesus is more than a prophet; he is indeed the messiah, our Lord and Savior. We should thank God for such a great gift. And as a sign of gratitude, we should try to be faithful to the faith we have received; we should live it accordingly and share it to others. May the same good Lord, who has given us the gift of faith, give us also the courage to be his faithful witnesses in the world today. Let us be witnesses to the Word! (Fr. Ernesto Salvar, SVD Bible Diary 2015)

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March 12, 2016 Saturday

I was writing this reflection at the time when the whole nation was talking about the death of the 44 members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) who had been killed while arresting a known terrorist allegedly residing in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. With the death of the Fallen 44, government officials and even ordinary citizens had varying reactions to the carnage. Some are blaming the MILF for the overkill while others are blaming the Commander-in-chief, holding him accountable for the attack. The PNP and AFP were even throwing blame at each other for the alleged non-coordination of the former and for not sending reinforcement, for the latter. Blame here.

Finger pointing there. Opinions everywhere.

But what if the 44 had not been killed? For sure, everybody would want credit and appreciation for it!

In today’s Gospel, we can see various reactions as to who Jesus was. In fact, it had caused division among those who had known him. Some believed that he was a prophet; some declared him as the Messiah while others confused his identity. The officers, who were instructed to arrest him, were amazed at how he spoke. For the chief priests and Pharisees, what Jesus was doing was a complete disrespect to their religion. In the latter part of the Gospel, we find Nicodemus having a mixed reaction: trying to defend Jesus and staying silent for fear of persecution. With such various reactions; they failed to understand the message of Jesus. They were so enclosed in their useless worries on Jesus’ identity rather than focusing on his message. Related to the reaction on the Fallen 44, we failed to see the message of such action – giving life for others to have peaceful lives! Jesus’ message is clear – salvation. We should not doubt the message by confusing who He is.

In this season of Lent, let us first examine ourselves. Are we ready to stand to defend Jesus amid the chaos of life? Am I making opinions about people or events in my life objectively and constructively? (Fr. Bernard Abrazado, SVD | Calapan City, Mindoro Bible Diary 2016)

rveritas-asia.org/index.php/daily-reflection/519-march-12-2016-saturday

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EXPOSED! I knew it because the Lord informed me: at that time you showed me their doings. – Jeremiah 11:18

My former manager set me up with a meeting with the regional manager (RM) of another insurance company where he planned to transfer. What I thought was an informal query on my part turned out to be a nightmare of an interview.

The RM battered me with questions related to my previous work experience as an agent of another insurance company. Since that was years ago, it was hard for me to recall every little detail. She insulted me for being unsure with some of my answers. She hurled other insults and even negatively commented about my attire.

After praying about my decision, I decided not to push through with the training. Their company might be the best in the country, so they claim, but I prefer to work for a business where people are treated with respect. My former manager later decided to stick with his present company because of negotiation problems with the RM.

God revealed to Jeremiah the people’s plot to kill him. In the same way, God showed me what stuff the RM was made of before I could even start with the company. When we are unjustly wronged, let us surrender our case to the Lord and He will avenge our situation. Judith Concepcion (svp_jmc@yahoo.com)

Reflection: When faced with threats, what do you do?

You, O Lord, are my refuge and strength, my help in times of trouble.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-04-05

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1ST READING: Revenge is never justified, no matter how grievous the original harm may have been. Jeremiah suffered a lot for being a prophet and telling men in high places that they were sinners and needed to repent. However, he never seeks to take revenge for all that he suffered from them. He leaves it to God to do the judging. It is wise for us to do the same. Jeremiah 11:18-20

GOSPEL: We hear that there are some people who want to arrest Jesus. Why? It seems that some of the things that Jesus was saying were considered blasphemous, as they discussed whether or not it was possible for the Messiah to come from Galilee. It seems that they were not aware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Even if they wanted to arrest Him, they were also interested in what He had to say, and so they did not do so. John 7:40-53

think:  Revenge is never justified, no matter how grievous the original harm may have been.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-04-05

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SENSUS FIDELIUM: The Gospel story shows how nauseating the arrogance of the priests and the Pharisees was. They seemed convinced that only they were learned enough to discern the truth of divine inspiration. With a haughty air of disdain, these Jewish authorities remarked about the ordinary Jews who believed in Jesus: “But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”

In truth, the workings of God’s Spirit may be more alive in the hearts and minds of the simple folks. Their spontaneity and transparency, their openness and vulnerability, their unassuming ways and indifference to power, their natural goodness and religiosity, and their innate compassion and goodwill often make ordinary men and women more receptive and attuned to God.

The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, in fact, reflected and stated: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole people’s supernatural discernment in matters of faith when ‘from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful’ they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God” (Lumen Gentium #12).

God does not only work in the person of the anointed and appointed leaders. He also works in the common sense of faith of the entire people! Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP

REFLECTION QUESTION: Are you a leader who is willing to listen and learn? Recall an incident when you experienced God’s Spirit working more in the inspirations, initiatives and impulses of the congregation of ordinary people in your community or in your parish.

Lord, grant me a listening and humble heart that I may hear You through ordinary people.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2014-04-05

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A CRIME STORY WITH A HAPPY ENDING – “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” – John 7:51

The Bible verse above was spoken by a Pharisee, citing Old Testament laws. It says that it’s OK to condemn a guilty man. But when Jesus came, He preached mercy and compassion, not condemnation. Pope Francis echoes the same.

In one of our mercy ministries, an employee was found to have falsified expense reports to pocket ministry money. Investigations bore out the truth. As the executive director, I recommended dismissal. The board of trustees unanimously backed up my decision.

But when the matter was referred to Bo Sanchez, our founder, he simply said three words: “Let’s forgive him.” I was shocked. The directors were shocked. But nobody dared defy Bo. So I forgave the delinquent employee and allowed him to keep his job.

I was glad I forgave him. He performed efficiently, honestly and happily since then. And years later, when he got married, he even got me as his godfather! Rey Ortega (reylindo.ortega@gmail.com)

Pope Francis Says: “Let us be renewed by God’s mercy… and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation, and make justice and peace flourish.”

Lord Jesus, please help me to choose following You, not human precepts, in my decisions, so I will become a better servant of Yours.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-03-12

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GO AGAINST THE TIDE – We always see the Pharisees as the enemies. The Bible is filled with stories of them always opposing Jesus. So it is amusing to know that not all of them have chosen to take an antagonistic stance against Him.

Nicodemus in today’s Gospel chose to speak up using their own Pharisaic laws in support of Jesus. “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” (John 7:51). This is a far cry from the Nicodemus that we have known in the earlier part of the Gospel of John (3:1-21). He was obviously drawn to Jesus but would not risk tainting his stature. Even if he wanted to see Jesus, he chose to do it in the cover of the night. The risk of being cast out because of his association with Jesus was just too great. This cowardly Pharisee finally speaks up. And what he has been fearing all along was proven true — his peers tried to prevail over him when he tried to use their own laws with them. It must have been really difficult for Nicodemus to go against the tide. The Pharisees’ tirade against the guards prove that Nicodemus was alone in his quest. It was a lonely quest, but he stood up for it nonetheless.

At the height of the debate on the Reproductive Health Bill, the nation was polarized, even the members of our Church. While the Church remained consistent in its stance, some faithful chose to remain quiet, afraid of ruffling feathers. This is just one of the many issues that we, as Catholic faithful, face each day. And it is in this light that Nicodemus can speak to us. Like him, would we have the gall to publicly challenge our friends’ and neighbors’ erroneous stand on moral issues and go by the norms set by our Lord? Can we be zealous in removing doubts about Jesus’ identity as the Son of God in the face of today’s public denial?

May we heed the inner stirrings of the Spirit, moving us to courageously speak up for Jesus, and set aside indifference that offers false cover and protection. Fr. Sandy V. Enhaynes

REFLECTION QUESTION: What prevents you from standing up for the truth about moral issues in our society today?

Holy Spirit, move me to stand up for God and His Gospel values whenever called for. Amen.

kerygmafamily.com/modules/dailyreadings/read.php?date=2016-03-12 (2016.03.14)

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My Reflection for Saturday April 5, fourth Week of Lent, John 7:40-53

Reflection: Who is Jesus to you? If you think you know Him, you will naturally say that He is your Lord and Savior. What about for those who do not know Jesus? They would perhaps nonchalantly say, I don’t know or I don’t care.

In our gospel the crowd was arguing about the identity of Jesus some were in favor of Him and some were not also. This scenario is still the same today, but what would we get if we argue. If we try to show that we know more that anyone else about Jesus? Nothing except arrogance more division and alienation.

Let us look at those who try very hard to show that they know Jesus or the Christian faith for that matter more than anyone else. They somewhat become arrogant and instead of bringing others to Jesus. They instead plant arrogance and hubris in the minds and hearts of their listeners. It is unfortunate that there are people who are like that.

If you happen to listen to someone who try to destroy others by using Jesus. Who will sell themselves as geniuses about Jesus to create division and enmity don’t listen to them anymore, they are not worth your precious time. Instead listen to those who preach Jesus with humility, love, hope and kindness. (Marino J. Dasmarinas)

mjdasma.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-reflection-for-saturday-april-5.html

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Daily Reflection (Mariana Miller) – In the Gospel reading today (verses 40 to 53), there is the discussion among the people about who Jesus is, where he comes from and whether he is the Prophet, or the Messiah. Furthermore, the Pharisees think that the ones who believe in Jesus and think he is the Messiah are the “crowds who do not know the law,” and the guards who have also been “deceived” by him. The Pharisees had their own image of God and they knew the law so well that their hearts were closed to Jesus’ revelation of God.

The theme of justice and righteousness present in the three readings today, takes me back to something that I find myself reflecting about fairly often. Each one of us makes, throughout our lives, an image of God. A God that fits in with our own, very human definition of the law and of justice, like Jeremiah, the Psalmist and the Pharisees. But Jesus reveals to us a God who is different, a God who reveals Godself to everyone but is often only heard by the poor (like the shepherds in Bethlehem), the sinners (prostitutes and tax collectors), the ignorant crowds, as in this case. It is almost as if this pseudo ignorance and the humbling realization of experiencing oneself as sinful and weak and in need of help, opens our hearts without a preconception of God. For those of us who often feel righteous and deserving of God’s salvation, it can be difficult to be open to a revelation of a God who is Love and loves all of God’s creatures. A revelation that often does not fit our preconceptions.

Jesus does not fulfill the characteristics of the Messiah the Pharisees were expecting. They were probably expecting a righteous and avenging Messiah, who would reveal the kind of God that Jeremiah and the psalmist thought they knew. But Jesus reveals a God who loves us all and his salvation is for all. But the catch is, salvation is not imposed on us, it is lovingly offered to us and we have to choose it and accept it. It is only after we experience our own poverty, our own sinfulness, our own ignorance that we will be free of preconceptions to accept God’s loving mercy and salvation. If we think we are righteous, then we do not need God and we will not “thirst” for salvation.

I think that the invitation today is to strip ourselves of all those preconceived ideas that we have about God and let ourselves be completely open to the God Jesus reveals: a God who, in Jesus, walks our same paths and tells us that God’s invitation is not contingent upon where we have been, or what we have done, or who we have been with. But the only important thing is to come to Jesus and to believe in him and he will give us his Spirit.

onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/040514.html

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent

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