Catholic Men’s Lenten Gospel Pilgrimage – 4th Week of Lent – Saturday – John 7:40-53
After causing significant division among men at the Feast of the Tabernacles in Jerusalem, on the great last day of the Feast, Christ boldly reveals that He is the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy of Ezekiel (47:1-12); Christ confirms that He is the new Temple from which “rivers of living water” (a reference to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) will flow to those who believe in Him.
Christ’s bold and mysterious preaching in the Temple at the Feast of the Tabernacles has created a great upheaval among men of Jerusalem; some are awed by Christ and believe Him to be the Messiah, some are confused because prophecy reveals that the Christ is to come from Bethlehem but Jesus is from Galilee (they do not realize that Christ was born in Bethlehem) while others are convinced He is a blasphemer who desires death. Well aware of the threat Christ poses to their power, the chief priests and Pharisees send Jewish officers to arrest Christ.
The Jewish officers are awed by Christ and return to the chief priests and Pharisees without arresting Him. The Pharisees, arrogant and condemning, ridicule the officers for being duped by Christ like the cursed ignorant crowds who do not “do not know the law.” Nicodemus, a member of the ruling class who Christ regards as a preeminent teacher (John 3:10), having come to learn from Christ (John 3:1-21), argues that Jewish law requires that they must speak with Christ prior to condemning Him. The other Pharisees ridicule Nicodemus (“Are you from Galilee too?”), arrogantly asserting “no prophet is to arise from Galilee”; in their arrogance and evil, they do not take the time to determine Christ’s true birthplace of Bethlehem. Divided, the Jewish leaders return to their own houses.
1) Prayerfully re-read today’s Gospel, using your imagination to “witness” the amazing reaction of the Jewish officers to Christ and their courageous refusal to arrest Him.
2) As was during the Incarnation, men remain divided about Christ; some are blessed to call Him their Savior, some are confused, and growing numbers reject Christ. During Lent pray with special emphasis for Christians to be Unified (CCC 813-822) and that Christ might draw all the baptized to His Holy Catholic Church.
3) Despite the ridicule and danger, Nicodemus courageously defends Christ from the evil intentions of the Pharisees. During Lent, renew your understanding of the duties of the Confirmed (CCC 1285-1321) and pray for Christ to strengthen and guide you to fulfill your obligation “to spread and defend the faith by word and deed” (CCC 1285).