Mumbai Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) | Daily scripture reflection 20th March 2021

Daily scripture reflection 20th March 2021

20th March, 2021
Initiative of the Ministry of the Word group Jer.11:18-20; Ps.7; Jn.7:40-53
20th March 2021, Saturday
Fourth week of Lent
Jer.11:18-20; Ps.7; Jn.7:40-53

The First Reading, from Jeremiah, speaks to us of the trials of the prophet.  Jeremiah is the target of vicious conspiracies which want to wipe him out of the earth.  Jeremiah’s trial & persecution is regarded as a forerunner to the persecution of Christ.

In 622 BC, King Josiah of Judah undertook religious reforms (cf.2Kgs.22) after the Book of the Law was discovered, having lain hidden for years.  The prophet Jeremiah, it seems, took an active part in the reform.  By championing the reform, which included the suppression of local shrines, Jeremiah incurred the hatred of his fellow citizens, the people of Ananoth.

In today’s passage, he compares himself to a “trustful lamb being led to the slaughterhouse” – a phrase also seen in Is.53:7, applied later to Jesus as he is led to his execution. Jeremiah’s enemies are plotting to get rid of him, “Let us destroy this tree in its strength, let us cut him from the land of the living, so that his name may no longer be remembered!” they say.  Jeremiah was a young prophet and had no children, therefore, in the eyes of his enemies that would be the end of him forever. 

However, Jeremiah places his trust in the Lord.  Ultimately, God is Jeremiah’s only protection, and He will see that truth and justice will prevail: “I shall see your vengeance on them, for I have revealed my cause to you”.  The sentiment is reiterated in the Psalm of the day: “O Lord, my God, in you I take refuge” (Ps.7:2a).

We see a similar strain in the Gospel; Jesus is facing stiff opposition from the Pharisees who have sent the temple police to arrest him.  Still, at the Temple of Jerusalem, where he had restored the man by the poolside, Jesus continues to speak of his mission and of his authority that comes from his Father in heaven.  

The crowds who listen to him are divided in their opinion; while some accept him to be “the Christ”, others are skeptical about his origins, “The Christ will not come from Galilee will he?”  They are obsessed with the idea of a political Messiah, from the royal line of David, who would free them from foreign rule and redeem them.  Galilee, with its gentile population, was the last place they for God’s chosen Messiah to come from. Yet, afraid of the crowds who supported Jesus, “no one laid hands on him”.

The Pharisees are livid, “Why did you not bring him?” they demand.  And the answer of the guards tells it all “Never before has anyone spoken like this man”.  Hearing this Nicodemus, who had earlier met Jesus (cf.Jn.3) tries to defend Jesus, “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him?” But the Pharisees blinded by their hatred, deride him claiming that in his ignorance, Nicodemus too seems to be “from Galilee” – “Look and see that no prophet arises from Galilee (of the gentiles)”.

The readings today exhort us to take a closer look at our own actions.  How often do we brush aside opinions that clash with our own?  When egos hurt, reason fails; the first instinct is to hit back.  We see it happening with Fr. Stan who languishes in the prison today.  His only crime is that he defends the defenseless - a lone voice of truth standing up to the bullying of powerful corporate bigwigs. The readings today remind us that evil might experience a temporary high by persecuting the truth, but in the end, it is Truth that prevails.