Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Saturday of the 4th Lent

Readings: Jer 11:18-20; Jn 7:40-53.

 

1/ First Reading: NAB Jeremiah 11:18 I knew it because the LORD informed me; at that time you, O LORD, showed me their doings. 19 Yet I, like a trusting lamb led to slaughter, had not realized that they were hatching plots against me: "Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more." 20 But, you, O LORD of hosts, O just Judge, searcher of mind and heart, Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause!

2/ Gospel: NAB John 7:40 Some in the crowd who heard these words said, "This is truly the Prophet." 41 Others said, "This is the Messiah." But others said, "The Messiah will not come from Galilee, will he? 42 Does not scripture say that the Messiah will be of David's family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?" 43 So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. 44 Some of them even wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 So the guards went to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why did you not bring him?" 46 The guards answered, "Never before has anyone spoken like this one." 47 So the Pharisees answered them, "Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed." 50 Nicodemus, one of their members who had come to him earlier, said to them, 51 "Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?" 52 They answered and said to him, "You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee." 53 Then each went to his own house.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.

I. THEME: One must carefully think before condemning the righteous.

           

            In life, when one or a group of people wants to condemn someone, they shall find all possible reasons so that they can condemn that person. They can cause contradiction between individuals or groups, or look for false witnesses, or wrongly interpret the law; but they don’t disclose the real reason of their condemnation.

            Today readings give us two examples of the wrong accusation of the righteous. In the first reading, God let the prophet Jeremiah see the wicked plan of those who were planning to seize and to kill him, because they didn’t want to listen to Jeremiah’s accusation that they violated God’s law. In the Gospel, the high priests and the Pharisees executed their plan to kill Jesus because they were afraid that people shall leave them to follow Jesus. On the one side, they sent the temple’s soldiers to seize Jesus, on the other side, they found the way to divide people and to draw people to themselves.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The plan to kill the prophet Jeremiah

           

1.1/ The wicked’s plan: To be God’s prophet is to say what the Lord wants him to say. The prophet Jeremiah accused many of the Judahites’ sins and the punishments which are going to fall upon them. They didn’t want to listen but also to devise a plan to destroy Jeremiah. They said to each other: “Let us destroy the tree in its vigor; let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name will be spoken no more.” Their purposes were not to listen to Jeremiah’s accusation and destroy the proof so that they can continue on their wicked ways.

           

1.2/ God’s power: But the wicked didn’t know the power of the Lord who sent the prophet. God not only let Jeremiah know about their plan but also uses Babylonian king as the stick to punish them and to take them on exile.

            Prophet Jeremiah firmly believed in God’s power, through his prayer to God: “But, you, O Lord of hosts, O just Judge, searcher of mind and heart, Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause!”

            People must carefully think before they accuse people whom are sent by God, because the innocence’s blood shall call for vengeance, and God shall give them His justice.

2/ Gospel: The plan to kill Christ

           

2.1/ The high priests and the scribes planned to kill Christ: The main reason for killing Jesus is for the material profit. They were afraid that if people follow Christ, they shall loose all material benefits which they were enjoying, as St. John reported in another place: “The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. The Pharisees then said to one another, "You see that you can do nothing; look, the world has gone after him."” (Jn 12:18-19).

           

2.2/ Others’ reactions about Christ:

            (1) People’s reaction: They didn’t know much about Scripture so the high priests and the scribes used their ignorance of Scripture to cause confusion and division among the people.

            - When they saw that some people wanted to believe in Christ as the prophet, they used Scripture and said: “The Messiah will not come from Galilee, will he?”

            - When they heard others who said, “This is the Messiah!” They answered: "Does not scripture say that the Messiah will be of David's family and come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"The truth is that Bethlehem was the birthplace of Christ (Mic 5:2); but the Old Testament said nothing about the place to grow up of the Messiah. They used these words to deny Jesus as the Messiah. They accomplished their goal because John reported: “So a division occurred in the crowd because of him.”

            (2) The temple soldiers’ reaction: 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 one."

            This is probably the most truthful reaction because the temple soldiers didn’t know much about the law and the Scripture; moreover, they were also belonging of the high priest and the Pharisees’ power. They probably heard Jesus’ speech the first time so they didn’t have any prejudice about him.

            (3) Nicodemus’ reaction: He was a Pharisee who went to see Jesus at night to converse with him. He knew how to apply of the law, challenging them, “Does our law condemn a person before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” He knew the law demands justice for all people (Exo 23:1, Deut 1:16); therefore, all have a right to defend oneself. The Sandherin which was considered the Jewish supreme court, can’t condemn anyone without a clear proof. The scribes didn’t follow the law when they condemned Jesus in his Passion. But Nicodemus had no courage to witness for Jesus when he saw their full of anger.

            (4) The Pharisees’ reaction: The Pharisees were not only angry at Jesus but also at everyone who didn’t take their side to accuse him. They were angry at:

            - The temple soldiers: They blamed them: ""Have you also been deceived?Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him?” They were so proud of themselves as the special class that people must imitate them.

            - People: The Pharisees despised them: “But this crowd, which does not know the law, is accursed." The Law of Rabbis had six prohibitions to contact with “the crowd”: Not to witness for them; not to believe in their witness; not to disclose any secret to them; not let them to be foster fathers of orphans; not to let them to be the treasures of charity funds; and not to accompany them on the journey.” Since they thought that the crowd didn’t know of the law, they can interprete the law in any way to achieve their purpose!

            - Nicodemus: They responded him: "You are not from Galilee also, are you? Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee."

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - There is a close connection between the fifth and the eight commandments: We used to pay attention to kill people by weapons, but rarely to kill others by slander, backbiting and false witnessing.

            - God knew everything in human mind so we should never join the wicked to accuse the righteous or the innocence because we must pay the price of their blood.

            - We must have courage to speak, to live and to witness for the truth. The truth is hurt, sometimes we have to pay a dearly price, but only the truth shall set us free.

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