“A Sign to Be Contradicted”

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Saturday of the Fourth 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.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you have called me to this moment of prayer, now in the season of Lent. I hope in your victory on the Cross, even as the world contradicts you. I love you, Lord Jesus; help me in my confusion and my weak love.
Encountering Christ:

  1. Jesus, A “Sign to Be Contradicted”: As the crowd disputed Jesus’s identity and origin, they quickly grew divided among themselves. We have seen this phenomenon before. In the Gospel of Luke, the prophet Simeon told Mary concerning the child Jesus: “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted” (Luke 2:34). Christ is a sign that is often contradicted, as are his faithful followers in the world. 
  2. “Never Before Has Anyone Spoken Like This Man”: The community was divided about who Jesus was, and the division ran deep, even to the soldiers who were supposed to arrest Christ. When the soldiers returned to the Sanhedrin empty-handed, they explained, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” Christ’s words spoke to their souls, even though Jesus had not spoken in this Gospel passage. When has Christ touched me so profoundly that he left a lasting impression on my soul?
  3. Twisting the Law: The Sanhedrin found itself confronted with the “Jesus problem,” and asked, “How do we kill him?” They connived to twist the law given to them by Moses. According to that law, no prophet arises from Galilee. Therefore, Jesus could not have been a prophet. They ignored the plea of Nicodemus for fairness, and proceeded to plot the murder of Jesus. How many of Our Lord’s commands are twisted, ignored, or rejected in today’s culture? As believers, let us respect and love what the Church teaches, and share with others how beautiful these truths are!

Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, your words are Spirit and life, and you speak directly to my soul. The world around me is divided about you–some love you, while many others hate you or are indifferent. Speak to me in my soul through your law so that I may bring this word of yours to all those who suffer without you!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take a moment to write down my reflections from this meditation.
For Further Reflection: The Colors of the Cross: A Retreat Guide for Lent by Fr. John Bartunek, LC (available on RCSpirituality).
Written by Br. Brian Flanagan, LC

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