Saturday, March 20, 2010

The blindness wrought by stubbornness and unbelief (Saturday, 4th Week of Lent, John 7:40-53)

Some in the crowd who heard these words of Jesus said,
“This is truly the Prophet.”
Others said, “This is the Christ.”
But others said, “The Christ will not come from Galilee, will he?
Does not Scripture say that the Christ will be of David’s family
and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?”
So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.
Some of them even wanted to arrest him,
but no one laid hands on him.
So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees,
who asked them, “Why did you not bring him?”
The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”
So the Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived?
Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?
But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed.”
Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them,
“Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him
and finds out what he is doing?”
They answered and said to him,
“You are not from Galilee also, are you?
Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
Then each went to his own house.

* * * * * * * *

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, was a cause of division to many. The crowds in today’s gospel reading argued amongst themselves as to where the Messiah was supposed to come from. Would he be from Galilee, or Bethlehem? Either way of course, Jesus fits the bill, he was from Galilee, but was born in Bethelehem. And he did belong to David’s line.

But this is hardly the point of our gospel reading. For as always, the people whom Jesus encounter, even towards the end of his earthly life, find him a source of confusion and perplexity. They couldn’t make up their minds. Where they to accept and believe him, or were they to simply dismiss him as another impostor and blasphemer? Was he the real thing?

For many the words and actions of Jesus were more than enough. The sick were healed, the blind had their sight restored, the deaf could hear, the mute could speak, the lame could walk. These, for many, were enough signs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah; they believed. For others, however, no amount of good deeds, no amount of good words coming from Jesus was enough to prove to them that he was in fact the one they had been waiting for all this time. For them, no proof was enough. Their total lack of faith made sure that they remained blind to the goodness of God right in front of them, in Jesus himself.

We too could be that way at times, not only unbelieving, but stubborn and persistent in our unbelief. Sadly, those who insist on being this way often miss the wonderful opportunity of knowing Jesus in a most intimate way.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)