View all Gospel Reflections |
Truth Has Consequences
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
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, thank you for this time you have given me to ponder your words of truth. Allow them to sink into the depths of my soul so that I can be forever faithful to you.
- Truth Can Surprise: What were the words of Christ that caused so much consternation? “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. As the Scripture says: ‘He who believes in me—rivers of living water shall flow from his belly.'” Christ preached the truth and people reacted to him with awe, indifference, or hatred. Perhaps most surprising was the reaction of the guards, who were so amazed that they did not obey the Jewish leaders’ order to bring Jesus to them. “Never before has anyone spoken like this man,” they told their superiors. We don’t know if this was not a life-changing moment for the guards, but they had certainly taken the first step toward conversion: They listened with open hearts to the words of Christ and their hearts were moved.
- Truth Can Be Rejected: The chief priests and the Pharisees held Jesus in contempt. Jesus was beneath them and the people who listened to him were beneath them. No message of any value could have come from someone of such lowly birth, so they thought. In their hatred, they went so far as to curse the whole crowd following Jesus and mock Nicodemus, one of their own. Anger closes minds and hardens hearts to the truth. “If anger reaches the point of a deliberate desire to kill or seriously wound a neighbor, it is gravely against charity; it is a mortal sin. The Lord says, ‘Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment’” (CCC 2303).
- Truth Can Be Divisive: Nicodemus experienced a battle all Christians face. Nicodemus had met Christ personally, had conversed with Christ about seminal truths but, at this point, he was not quite ready to put his own neck on the line. His head told him one thing, while his heart told him differently. He did not defend Christ directly before the Pharisees, but quoted some legal statutes so that Christ might be able to defend himself. However, after Christ’s death, Nicodemus stepped forward, publicly admitting his allegiance to Christ (John 19:39). Nicodemus, like many of us, grew in his love for Christ over time, not all at once. What hope his story gives to those of us who pray that family and friends will one day draw close to Christ!
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you spoke and lived what was in your heart with perfect authenticity. You know that I love you. Please give me the courage to defend you when necessary. Please continue to draw those I love ever closer to you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will affirm that every moment is an opportunity to evangelize. I will consciously share my faith with someone today.
For Further Reflection: God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth. John 4:24
Father Joshua West is a Legionary of Christ priest serving as chaplain at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.