REFLECTION FOR TODAY
March 20, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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.” Jn. 7:46-49
God’s word was spoken, through his prophets and his Son Jesus, to his people longing for redemption. Many fail to listen and see what God is doing for them. Rather than uniting around Jesus, people are divided and plot against him. If we listen to God’s word and see what it does, we will not reject it.
In our gospel reference today, we hear the words from the guards and that of the Pharisee over the identity of Jesus following the heated debates that has caused division in the crowd and among authorities, because they believe that the Christ could not possibly come from Galilee.
The greatest act of love ever known was God becoming one of us, being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, growing up in the household of Saint Joseph, and eventually beginning His public ministry by which the saving truth of the gospel was proclaimed so that all may come to know God and be saved. And it was of this act of perfect love given to us by God that the Pharisees attacked and called those who believed in it “deceived” and “accursed.”
The evil of rejection is very obvious in our world today. When the evil one sees we are advancing in holiness and righteousness, he attacks in various ways. He will try to unsettle you and cause an undue anxiety about serving God, he will try to sadden us with an unexplained sorrow, putting obstacles in our way of virtue causing you to feel overwhelmed and think we are too weak to live a good Christian life of virtue.
The Pharisees were vicious in their attacks, not only to Jesus but also upon anyone who began to believe in Jesus. They said to the guards who were impressed by Jesus, “Have you also been deceived?” This was clearly the evil one at work through them trying to intimidate the guards and anyone who dared believe in Jesus.
Understanding the tactics of the evil one and his messengers is of great value, because it helps us reject the lies and deceptions spewed out at us. Sometimes these lies come from individuals and are directed directly at us, and sometimes the lies are more universal, coming through the media, the culture and even the government, at times.
Today we are faced with a decision: to be like the guards or the Pharisees. We can hear the words of our Savoir and start to live them out or we can be like the Scribes and the Pharisees, sure of our own thoughts that we cannot respond to God. The choice is ours.
Reflect, today, upon the distasteful and bitter words of these Pharisees. But do so to help yourself understand the tactics the evil one often takes as you seek greater holiness in life. Be assured that the closer you get to God, the more you will be attacked. But do not be afraid. Identify any personal, social, cultural or even governmental attack for what it is. Have confidence and do not be deterred as you seek to follow Christ more completely every day.
My divine Judge of all, at the end of time You will establish Your permanent Kingdom of truth and justice. You will reign over all and will bestow Your mercy and justice on all. May I live fully in Your truth and never be deterred by the attacks and lies of the evil one. Give me courage and strength, dear Lord, as I always trust in You. Jesus, I do trust in You.