By Jennifer Burgin
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.
Divisions in Life Divisions exist among us. It's a challenge to see eye-to-eye on sensitive issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and religion. Some parents no longer speak to their child who comes "out of the closet." Islamists persecute Christians because they pose a "threat" to Allah. A woman who desires to keep her baby is forced by a boyfriend to abort.....
Unfortunately, conflict is a part of human existence. The walls of division appear to stand firmly in place. Tensions in families, the workplace, and even places of worship leave people asking why?
Isn't there a way for us to better handle division? Shouldn't we love one another despite our differences? Jesus Christ has the power and the willingness to spiritually mediate for us. We should place our trust in Him.
No one laid a hand We now enter the final weeks of our Lenten journey. Jesus is undergoing more intense scrutiny. People begin to doubt the origin of Christ's amazing miracles. Noticeably the crowds take sides: believers of Jesus Christ the Messiah vs. non-believers calling Jesus the blasphemer. Yet, nobody lays a hand on our Lord. Nicodemus attempts to mediate the issue: “Does our law condemn a man before it first hears him and finds out what he is doing?” Very interesting a member of the Sanhedrin stands up for Jesus. Again the big question is why? Saint Thomas Aquinas explains:
"Nicodemus said what he said because he believed in Christ and wanted to convert them to Christ; yet because he was afraid he didn't act very candidly. He thought that if they would listen to Christ, the words of Christ would be so effective that perhaps they would change like those whom they sent to Jesus....."
It's natural for us to judge and condemn a person based on circumstantial evidence, even hearsay. Thank goodness for our own judicial system even if at times it seems unfair or unjust. Lives have been ruined by false imprisonment, and reputations have been stained by rumors and accusations. If Nicodemus did not raise the question to his fellow Pharisees, could Jesus have been arrested that day? Nicodemus took initiative recognizing the Truth in Jesus Christ which others found difficult to comprehend.
Never before has anyone spoken like this I can't help but wonder what was going on in Jesus' mind during the interchanges between the crowds, the guards, and the Pharisees/scribes. Was he scared and nervous? Did he already know people's reactions? Did he silently pray? Jesus' words touched hearts; surprisingly even the guards' harden hearts. The guards could have quickly hauled Jesus away to prison, but they didn't lay one finger on him. They were simply amazed by Jesus' words.
Among the division and confusion lie tiny seeds of conversion. A seed is planted into the soul. Do we nourish it or allow it to wither and die? The Jews were given a choice to either accept or reject Jesus as the true Messiah. Even in modern-day, each one of us is given the same choice: believe or not-believe?
The Pharisees and scribes continued to criticize not only Jesus but now the "accursed" crowds. Obedience to Jewish law is all they cared about until the bitter end. Sadly, Jesus will undergo grueling crucifixion as a result of their persistence.
As Christians, we can choose to remain divided in relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters. Or, we can choose to work together for a common good: spreading Christ's message of mercy to everyone no matter what state in life. We don't need to force-feed relativized "truths" or make people think our way is the right way. What is needed is compassion and love. We must work through the divisions in life, taking our differences and transforming them into something good and holy.
Let us pray for one another and ask the Lord, our spiritual mediator, to guide us with his grace and mercy.
This meditation was written by Jennifer Burgin, a convert to Catholicism. She participates in liturgical ministry at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Richardson, TX. Please visit her daily blog: Jennifer's Spectrum of Spirituality