Anoint The Lord with richness of your life

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Lenten Reflection: Day 41

Gospel, John 12:1-11

While Martha was serving, Mary anointed the Lord with ointment, thus accomplishing her love towards Him; and by the actions of both, the measure of love was filled up and made perfect. The traitor rebukes the woman who had shown her devotion towards Christ, and attacks the admirable deed, and affects to blame it out of love towards the poor, because ointment was brought and not money. But it was out of ignorance as to what is really excellent that Judas said this. For the bringing of presents unto God ought to be honoured more than the poor. For, He says, love for the poor is very praiseworthy, only let it be put after veneration of God.

And what He says amounts to this: The time, He says, which has been appointed for My being honoured, that is to say, the time of My sojourn on earth, does not require that the poor should be honoured before Me. And this He said with reference to the Incarnation. He does not however in any way forbid the sympathetic person to exercise his love towards the poor. Therefore when there is need of service or of singing, these must be honoured before love towards the poor; for it is possible to do good after the spiritual services are over. He says therefore that it is not necessary always without intermission to devote our time to honouring Himself, or to spend everything upon the priestly service, but to lay out the greatest part upon the poor.

Mary annointing Jesus feet

For after the Ascension of the Saviour, when they were no longer following their Master on His journeys, but had leisure; then they eagerly spent all the offerings that were brought to them upon the poor. Through the strangeness of the sign the multitude are astonished; and that which they heard to have been done they wished also to behold with their eyes, that they might believe it more confidently. And they not only wished to see Lazarus, but also the Christ, the doer of the sign; not then seeing Him for the first time, for they had often seen Him and accompanied with Him; but inasmuch as He had gone into retirement, that He might not suffer before the proper time, they were seeking again to see Him: and the more reasonable among them even admired Him, as they recognised no fault in Him. With a settled purpose therefore the Lord did not immediately enter into Jerusalem, but remained outside, in order that by the report [which would reach the city] He might draw the common people to a desire of wishing to see Him.

See now how frantic the rulers seem to become, wildly rushing hither and thither under the influence of their envy, and saying nothing coherently. They seriously meditate murder upon murder, thinking to remove the force of the miraculous deed at the same time with their victim, that they might stop the people running to believe Christ.

The above is an excerpt of St. Cyril of Alexandria’s homiletic Commentary on today’s Gospel reading.

Triumphant entry of life into death

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Lenten Reflection: Day 40

Gospel, Mark 15: 1-39

Luke has also laid open the false charges which they brought against Him; for he thus relates it: And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cæsar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. No one can feel it a difficulty that Matthew is silent as to their asking some one to be released unto them, which Mark here mentions; for it is a thing of no consequence that one should mention a thing which another leaves out. There follows: But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the Chief Priests had delivered him for envy.

Some one may ask, which were the words of which Pilate made use, those which are related by Matthew, or those which Mark relates; for there seems to be a difference between, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? as Matthew has it; and, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? (Matt. 27:17) as is here said. But since they gave to kings the name of Christs, he who said this man or that must have asked whether they wished the King of the Jews to be released unto them, that is, Christ. It makes no difference to the sense that Mark has said nothing of Barabbas, wishing only to mention what belonged to the Lord, since by their answer he sufficiently shewed whom they wished to have released to them. For there follows, But the Chief Priests moved the people that he should rather release unto them Barabbas.

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But we must understand that the words of Matthew, they put on him a scarlet robe, Mark expresses by clothed him in purple; for that scarlet robe was used by them in derision for the royal purple, and there is a sort of red purple, very like scarlet. It may also be that Mark mentions some purple which the robe had about it, though it was of a scarlet colour. It appears that Matthew and Mark here relate things which took place previously, not that they happened when Pilate had already delivered Him to be crucified. For John says that these things took place at Pilate’s house; but that which follows, And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put on him his own clothes, must be understood to have taken place last of all, when He was already being led to be crucified.

…This also he most of all wondered at, that after that voice which He sent forth as a figure of our sin, He immediately gave up His spirit. For the spirit of the Mediator shewed that no penalty of sin could have had power to cause the death of His flesh; for it did not leave the flesh unwillingly, but as it willed, for it was joined to the Word of God in the unity of person.

The above is an excerpt from St. Augustine’s homily on the Palm Sunday Gospel.

Plotting to kill God

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Lenten Reflection: Day 39

Gospel, John 11:45-57

For not refraining themselves from Him, when He said that Himself was One with the Father, they rush to kill Him; although each of the works wrought by Him proclaimed that He was in His Nature God. And not only now, but on other occasions also when they took up stones to kill Him, they stood motionless through the power of Christ; so that it became evident from this also, that He would not suffer except He was willing. Moreover in His gentleness Christ checked their unreasonable impulse, saying not: “For which of the words that I said, are ye angry?” but: “For which of the works that I did?” 

For if I had not done, He says, many God-befitting works which shew that I am in My Nature God, ye might be reasonably angry with Me now, hearing Me say that I and the Father are One. But I should not have said this, had I not shewn it by all things that I did. And He speaks of the works as from the Father, not from Himself, shewing this modesty for our profit, so that we may not boast when we receive anything from God. And He says the works were shown from the Father, not to indicate that the power exhibited in them was other than His own, but to teach that they were the works of the whole Godhead.

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We stone Thee, not on account of the good works which Thou didst, but because Thou blasphemest.” They were the blasphemers, on the contrary, because they wished to stone One Who was truly God, not knowing that Jesus was destined to come, not in the undisguised Godhead, but Incarnate of the Seed of David; [and thus] they speak of His true confession as blasphemy. For if the Word of God through the Holy Spirit leads up to superhuman grace, and adorns with a Divine honour those in whom He may be, Why, saith He, say ye that I blaspheme when I call Myself Son of God and God? Although by the works I have done from Him I am borne witness to as in My Nature God. For having sanctified Me He sent Me into the world to be the Saviour of the world; and it is the attribute only of One in His Nature God, to be able to save men from the devil and from sin and from corruption.

But when we distinguish ourselves by our bodies, the many are no longer one; a distinction which cannot be mentioned concerning One Who is God by Nature, for whatever is Divine is incorporeal, although we conceive of the Holy Trinity as in distinct Subsistences. For the Father is the Father and not the Son; the Son again is the Son and not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is peculiarly the Spirit: although They are not at variance, through Their fellowship and unity One with Another. The Holy Trinity is known in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. But the designation of each one of These Who have been enumerated denotes not a part of the Trinity, but the Whole of It; since in truth God is undivided and simple, although distributed in These Subsistences.

Leaving Jerusalem, the Saviour seeks a refuge in a place possessing springs of water, that He might signify obscurely as in a type how He would leave Judasa and go over to the Church of the Gentiles which possesses the fountains of Baptism: there also many approach unto Him. crossing through the Jordan; for this is signified by Christ taking up His abode beyond Jordan. We honour John, not as having performed any God-befitting work, but as having borne true witness concerning Christ. For Christ was more wonderful, not only than John, but than every saint; for whereas they were Prophets, He was the wonder-working God. And we must notice that the words of John and of the other Prophets are a way [to lead us] to believe Christ. 

The above is an excerpt from St. Cyril of Alexandria’s homily on today’s Gospel.

Doing the Father’s work

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Lenten Refection: Day 38

Gospel, John 10:31-42

Here He speaketh not of faith only, but of a pure life. Above He said, “shall have everlasting life,” but here, “shall not see death.” (cf. Jn 6:40). At the same time He hinteth to them that they could do nothing against Him, for if the man that should keep His saying should not die, much less should He Himself. At least they understood it so, and said to Him. And concerning the “death,” He said nothing to them, neither did He reveal or tell them what kind of death He meant, but in the meantime He would have them believe, that He is greater than Abraham, that even by this He may put them to shame.

“Certainly,” He saith, “were I a common man I ought not to die, having done no wrong; but when I speak the truth, and have no sin, am sent from God, and am greater than Abraham, are ye not mad, do ye not labor in vain when ye attempt to kill Me?” What then is their reply? “Now we know that thou hast a devil.” Not so spake the woman of Samaria. She said not to Him, “Thou hast a devil”; but only, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” ( Jn 4:12). For these men were insolent and accursed, while she desired to learn; wherefore she doubted and answered with proper moderation, and called Him, “Lord.” For one who promised far greater things, and who was worthy of credit, ought not to have been insulted, but even admired; yet these men said that He had a devil.

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After this, again He fleeth as a man, and concealeth Himself, having laid before them sufficient instruction: and having accomplished His work, He went forth from the Temple, and departed to heal the blind, proving by His actions that He is before Abraham. But perhaps some one will say,“Why did He not paralyze their strength? So they would have believed.” He healed the paralytic, yet they believed not; nay, He wrought ten thousand wonders; at the very Passion He cast them to the ground, and darkened their eyes, yet they believed not; and how would they have believed if He had paralyzed their strength?

Now if there be any comfort for those who mourn over the woes of others, much more for those who rejoice at the honors of others. He charged the Moabites with having exulted over the Israelites, yet it was God that punished them; but not even when He punisheth will He have us rejoice over those that are punished. For it is not His wish to punish them. Now if we must condole with those who are punished, much more must we avoid envying. those who are honored. Thus, for example, Corah and Dathan perished with their company, making those whom they envied brighter, and giving themselves up to punishment.

For a venomous beast is envy, an unclean beast, a deliberate vice which admits not of pardon, a wickedness stripped of excuse, the cause and mother of all evils. Wherefore let us pluck it up by the roots, that we may be freed from evil here, and may obtain blessings hereafter; through the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom and with whom, to the Father and the Holy Ghost, be glory now and ever and world without end. Amen.

The above is an excerpt from St John Chrysostom’s 55th Homily on the Gospel of John.

The Virgin, whom called God ‘Mommy’!

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Lenten Reflection: Day 37

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38

Today are strains of praise sung joyfully by the choir of angels, and the light of the advent of Christ shines brightly upon the faithful. Today is the glad spring-time to us, and Christ the Sun of righteousness has beamed with clear light around us, and has illumined the minds of the faithful. Today is Adam made anew, and moves in the choir of angels, having winged his way to heaven. Today is the whole circle of the earth filled with joy, since the sojourn of the Holy Spirit has been realized to men. Today the grace of God and the hope of the unseen shine through all wonders transcending imagination, and make the mystery that was kept hidden from eternity plainly discernible to us. Today are woven the chaplets of never-fading virtue.

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1896

Today, God, willing to crown the sacred heads of those whose pleasure is to hearken to Him, and who delight in His festivals, invites the lovers of unswerving faith as His called and His heirs; and the heavenly kingdom is urgent to summon those who mind celestial things to join the divine service of the incorporeal choirs. Today is fulfilled the word of David, Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad. The fields shall be joyful, and all the trees of the wood before the Lord, because He comes. David thus made mention of the trees; and the Lord’s forerunner also spoke of them as trees that should bring forth fruits meet for repentance, or rather for the coming of the Lord. But our Lord Jesus Christ promises perpetual gladness to all those who believe in Him. For He says, I will see you, and you shall rejoice; and your joy no man takes from you.

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Today is the illustrious and ineffable mystery of Christians, who have willingly set their hope like a seal upon Christ, plainly declared to us. Today did Gabriel, who stands by God, come to the pure virgin, bearing to her the glad annunciation, Hail, thou that art highly favoured! You know, O Mary, things kept hidden from the patriarchs and prophets. You have learned, O virgin, things which were kept concealed till now from the angels. You have heard, O purest one, things of which even the choir of inspired men was never deemed worthy. Moses, and David, and Isaiah, and Daniel, and all the prophets, prophesied of Him; but the manner they knew not. Yet you alone, O purest virgin, are now made the recipient of things of which all these were kept in ignorance, and you learn the origin of them. For where the Holy Spirit is, there are all things readily ordered. Where divine grace is present, all things are found possible with God.

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For the holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary.  Arise, O Lord, into Your rest. Arise, O Lord, out of the bosom of the Father, in order that You may raise up the fallen race of the first-formed man. Setting these things forth, David in prophecy said to the rod that was to spring from himself, and to sprout into the flower of that beauteous fruit, Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear, and forget your own people and your father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire your beauty: for He is the Lord your God, and you shall worship Him. Hearken, O daughter, to the things which were prophesied beforetime of you, in order that you may also behold the things themselves with the eyes of understanding. Hearken to me while I announce things beforehand to you, and hearken to the archangel who declares expressly to you the perfect mysteries. Come then, dearly beloved, and let us fall back on the memory of what has gone before us; and let us glorify, and celebrate, and laud, and bless that rod that has sprung so marvellously from Jesse.

Excerpts from the first out of four homilies St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (Church Father) Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.

What I say is what the Father has taught me

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Lenten Reflection: Day 36

Gospel, John 8:21-30

I am from above. You are of this world: I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins. He has explained to us, brethren, what He wished to be understood by you are of this world. He said therefore in fact, You are of this world, because they were sinners, because they were unrighteous, because they were unbelieving, because they savored of the earthly. For what is your opinion as regards the holy apostles? What difference was there between the Jews and the apostles?

As great as between darkness and light, as between faith and unbelief, as between piety and impiety, as between hope and despair, as between love and avarice: surely the difference was great. What then, because there was such a difference, were the apostles not of the world? If your thoughts turn to the manner of their birth, and whence they came, inasmuch as all of them had come from Adam, they were of this world. But what said the Lord Himself to them? I have chosen you out of the world. Those, then, who were of the world, became not of the world, and began to belong to Him by whom the world was made. But these men continued to be of the world, to whom it was said, You shall die in your sins.

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For if you believe not that I am [He], you shall die in your sins. I believe, brethren, that among the multitude who listened to the Lord, there were those also who should yet believe. But against all, as it were, had that most severe sentence gone forth, You shall die in your sin; and thereby even from those who should yet believe had hope been withdrawn: the others were roused to fury, they to fear; yea, to more than fear, they were brought now to despair. But He revived their hope; for He added, ‘If you believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins’.

Therefore if you do believe that I am, you shall not die in your sins. Hope was restored to the desponding, the sleeping were aroused, their hearts got a fresh awakening; and thereafter very many believed, as the Gospel itself attests in the sequel. For members of Christ were there, who had not yet become attached to the body of Christ; and among that people by whom He was crucified, by whom He was hanged on a tree, by whom when hanging He was mocked, by whom He was wounded with the spear, by whom gall and vinegar were given Him to drink, were the members of Christ, for whose sake He said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

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But look at this which is said by Christ the Lord: If you believe not that I am, you shall die in your sins. What is this, ‘If you believe not that I am?’ I am what? There is nothing added; and because He added nothing, He left much to be inferred. For He was expected to say what He was, and yet He said it not. What was He expected to say? Perhaps, If you believe not that I am Christ; if you believe not that I am the Son of God; if you believe not that I am the Word of the Father; if you believe not that I am the founder of the world; if you believe not that I am the former and re-former, the creator and re-creator, the maker and re-maker of man—if you believe not that I am this, you shall die in your sins.

Translated by John Gibb. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.

Go and sin no more

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Lenten Reflection: Day 35

Gospel, John 8:1-11

“The scribes and the Pharisees”: this is often a stock phrase in the Gospels for “those Jews who disagreed with Jesus and opposed Him”—but it certainly should not be interpreted to mean all scribes and all Pharisees (we see members of both groups interacting favourably with Jesus in other places in the Gospels). The scribes were a group of people with particular training in Scripture and in the interpretation of Jewish law (perhaps something akin to canon lawyers in Catholicism); the Pharisees were members of a lay movement that sought to extend God’s reign into every aspect of a person’s day, to bring the holiness of the Temple into everyday life in a ‘holistic’ way.

The woman in the Gospel incident today, is never given a name, and her marital status is not specified; in many ways, she is treated, not like a person, but as an object, a tool to prove a point, a victim of an ideological “tug-of-war”. She certainly comes across as de-humanized and de-valued, and speaks only once, and then very briefly (“No one, sir,” v.11). Note also that there is no mention of the man with whom she is alleged to have committed adultery; some have suggested that, in a male-dominated culture, there was more tolerance for men’s sexual misdeeds than for those of women, and that a double standard sometimes was applied to such crimes.

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“Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground”: for centuries, scholars and preachers have speculated on exactly what Jesus might have been writing, and why it is apparently so significant that the author mentions Jesus doing it twice in this account. Did He (as some Church Fathers supposed) write some of the names of her accusers, together with details of some of their own sordid histories—which He, as God, evidently knew well?4 He writes something in the sand. Something mysterious. The Scriptures do not reveal the secret writing. Did he write the adulterous man’s name? Did he know the man? Had the woman been trapped by an angry husband? Did Jesus write the names of several men in the crowd who he knew had adulterous arrangements? Whatever he wrote, it was not irrelevant. Christian interpretation has treated it as irrelevant. But we can assume it had something to do with the situation at hand.

(Rachel C. Wahlberg, Jesus According to a Woman, pp. 21-22).

St. Augustine in his homily says, “Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him”: I particularly love the words of St. Augustine as he describes this scene: Relicti sunt duo, misera et misericordia (“Two of them are left behind: the pitiful woman and Pity incarnate”. Mark Jesus’ reply. It contains justice, clemency, and truth in full measure. Let the one among you who has never sinned be the first to throw a stone at her. Let the sinner be punished, yes—but not by sinners. Let the law be carried out, but not by lawbreakers.

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This, unquestionably, is the voice of justice, justice that pierced those men like a javelin … Two remained behind: the miserable woman, and Mercy. The Lord raised his eyes, and with a gentle look he asked her: Has no one condemned you? She replied: No one, sir. And he said: Neither will I condemn you. What is this, Lord?! Are you giving approval to immorality? Not at all. Take note of what follows: Go and sin no more. You see then that the Lord does indeed pass sentence, but it is sin he condemns, not people … He said: “Neither will I condemn you; you need have no fear of the past, but beware of what you do in the future. Neither will I condemn you: I have blotted out what you have done; now observe what I have commanded, in order to obtain what I have promised.”

(English translation by Sr. Edith Barnecut, OSB, in Journey With the Fathers: Year C; online at the Center for Liturgy, St. Louis University)

Dying of the seed for a harvest of righteousness

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Lenten Reflection: Day 34

Gospel, John 12:20-33

From the homily of Cornelius Cornelii a Lapide – a Flemish Jesuit and exegete.

Some strangely suppose these to have been Jews who lived among the Gentiles, when S. John expressly says that they were Gentiles. These were partly proselytes, who had already embraced Judaism, or at least were thinking about it (so Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euthymius), and partly Gentiles, who believed that there was One God, and who on seeing Him worshipped so reverently in the Temple, and by such multitudes at the Passover, resolved to do the same, being specially attracted by the fame of Christ’s holiness and miracles, and being desirous of seeing Him. So S. Cyril, Leontius, and Theophylact. Just as the Eunuch of Queen Candace went up to Jerusalem to worship (Acts 8:27); and Gentile kings also reverenced the Temple of Jerusalem and sent offerings to it, as Cyrus, Darius Hystaspes (Ezra 1 and Ezra 6), Seleucus, and other kings of Asia (2 Macc 3:3).

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Christ teaches us that His glorification would come to Him through the death of the Cross, lest the Apostles and the faithful should be offended at it. Hear S. Augustine (in loc.), “Jesus by this meant Himself. For He was the grain of wheat which had to die, and be multiplied; to die through the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied by the faith of all people.” This means, that as a grain of wheat thrown into the ground does not germinate except it die, but if it die it germinates and brings forth much fruit; so, in like manner, I must needs die, that by the merits and through the example of my death, I may bring forth many eminent and striking fruits of virtue and faith: I mean the many thousands of Martyrs, Virgins, Doctors, and Confessors, all over the world in the present and future ages. This also comes to pass in the death of Martyrs, when one dies, and many spring up in his place, and embrace the faith of Christ.

For Christ foresaw that the Apostles, and Christians in general, would after His death suffer persecution, and accordingly He here wished to forewarn and forearm them. Again, Christ wished to teach all Christians, that they should constantly resist all evil desires and strive against them. But the Circumcelliones misinterpreted this passage, for, as S. Augustine testifies (in loc), they used to kill themselves in order to obtain the eternal life here promised by Christ. For it is one thing to hate one’s life, and another to make away with it, an act forbidden by every law.

Martyrdom of St. Andrew - 1682 painting

Martyrdom of St. Andrew – 1682 painting

Chrysostom gives the reason, “Having exhorted His disciples to follow Him even to death, for fear they should say that He could easily philosophize about death, He showed that He was in an agony, and yet that He did not refuse to die, to teach us to do the same, when dreading death and self-denial. In saying glorify Thy Name it is as if he were saying: Glorify Me at this very instant; that both Gentiles and Jews may acknowledge that I have been sent by Thee to redeem man, and will therefore glorify Thee for thy goodness. So Theodore of Heraclæa.

Prophet from the least expected

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Lenten Reflection: Day 33

Gospel, John 7:40-53

From the homilies of St. Augustine:

You remember, my beloved, in the last discourse, by occasion of the passage of the Gospel read, we spoke to you concerning the Holy Spirit. When the Lord had invited those that believe on Him to this drinking, speaking among those who mediated to lay hold of Him, and sought to kill Him, and were not able, because it was not His will; well when He had spoken these things, there arose a dissension among the multitude concerning Him; some thinking that He was the very Christ, others saying that Christ shall not arise from Galilee. But they who had been sent asked, “Why have ye not brought Him?” They answered that they had never heard a man so speak: “For not any man so speaks.” But He spake thus. Because He was God and Man.

But the Pharisees repelling their testimony, said to them: “Are ye also deceived?” We see, indeed, that you also have been charmed by His discourses. “Hath anyone of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on Him? But this multitude who know not the Law are cursed.” They who knew not the Law believed on Him who had sent the Law; and those men who are teaching the Law despised Him, that it; might be fulfilled which The Lord Himself had said, “I have come that they who see not may see, and they that see may be made blind.” For the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law, were made blind, and the people that knew not the Law, and yet believed on the author of the Law, were enlightened.

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Nicodemus, however, “one of the Pharisees who had come to see The Lord by night,” – not indeed as being himself unbelieving, but timid, for therefore he came by night to the light, because He wished to be enlightened, and feared to be known. Nicodemus, I say, answered the Jews, “Doth you judge a man before ye know what he doeth?” For they perversely wished to condemn before they examined. Nicodemus indeed knew, or rather believed, that if only they were willing to give Him a patient hearing, they would perhaps become like those who were sent to take Him, but preferred to believe. They answered, from the prejudice of their heart, what they had answered to the officers, “Art thou also a Galilean?” That is, one seduced as it were by the Galilean. For The Lord was said to be a Galilean, because His parents were from the city of Nazareth.

I have said ‘His parents’ in regards to Mary not as regards to the seed of man; for on earth He sought but a mother, He had already a Father on high. For His nativity on both sides was marvellous: divine without mother, human without father. What, then, said those would-be doctors of the Law to Nicodemus? “Search the scriptures and see; that out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Yet the Lord of the prophets arose thence. “They returned,” saith the evangelist, “every man to His own house.”

You are sent out to be a witness of God

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Lenten Reflection: Day 32

Gospel, John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

The Jews annually celebrated three major feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles is also known as the Feast of Booths (Hebrew: Sukkot). During the seventh day of feast, the people dwelt in branched “booths” (or tents), a commemoration of the time when their ancestors lived in tents during the wilderness journey (Lev 23:43).

During the celebrations, the people offered thanksgiving for the temple, the place of worship given to them in the Promised Land (1 Kings 8:2; 12-32). They also gave thanks for the crops harvested that year (Deut 16:13). When the relatives of Jesus urged Him to go to the feast and publicly perform His miracles, He knew that His life would be at risk. So Jesus went in secret and while He was there, He taught in the Temple. Some people knew Jesus’ human origin.

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They knew that His home was in Nazareth’ they knew His parents; and they knew His brothers and sisters (close relatives). But popular belief in that day held that the messiah would appear suddenly and no one would know where he had come from. Jesus declared that he had come on his own. He had been sent by God, the one who they did not know.

(Together with God’s word.com commentary)

Jesus cried out as He was teaching in the Temple, ‘You do know God. I know God because God sent me’ (John 7). “Sent in today’s Gospel in the original Greek is apostello. In John’s understanding of Jesus, Jesus is an apostle, sent to come close to all who are broken, outcast, brokenhearted, crushed in anyway. There are more apostles then the twelve disciples. Paul and Barnabas are apostles (Acts of the Apostles). We too are made apostles in our Baptism. We are sent to reach out to the brokenhearted and the crushed, letting Jesus live in our world today through us.

Remember a time when you were brokenhearted or crushed in spirit. Who reached out to you in your suffering? What did that person do for you? When were you aware that God sent (apostello) to you? Thank God for all those people who put flesh on His word in our lives.

(Commentary by School Sisters of Notre Dame)