Jesus awes some and confuses others, thwarting the Jewish leadership’s attempt to arrest Him. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Virtue of Hope so he can always trust God to unify His men in the Holy Catholic Church and by building the Virtue of Defense so he can always do his sacred duty to defend the Catholic faith.
4th Week of Lent – Saturday – Jn 7:40-53
The Feast of the Tabernacles was a seven-day Jewish religious festival in Jerusalem which commemorated the fall harvest and God’s provisioning of Israel during the Exodus, and was celebrated by the Water Libation Ritual and the Light Ritual. On the great last day of the Feast, Jesus transforms the meaning of the Water Libation Ritual by boldly revealing He fulfills the ancient prophecy of Ezekiel (Ezek 47:1-12), confirming that He is the new Temple from which “rivers of living water” will flow to those who believe in Him; it is a cryptic revelation of the pouring out of the Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism, and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Jesus’ bold and mysterious preaching in the Temple at the Feast of the Tabernacles created a great upheaval among the men of Jerusalem: some are awed and believe Jesus is the Messiah; some are confused because prophecy reveals the Messiah is to come from Bethlehem, but they mistakenly believe Jesus is from Galilee, not knowing He was indeed born in Bethlehem; others are convinced He is a blasphemer who deserves to be killed. Acutely aware of the great threat Jesus poses to their power, the chief priests and Pharisees send Jewish officers to arrest Jesus.
The Jewish officers are, instead, also awed by Jesus, and return to the chief priests and Pharisees without arresting Him. The Pharisees, arrogant and condemning, ridicule the officers for being duped by Jesus, just like the cursed ignorant crowds who, “do not know the law.” Nicodemus, a member of the ruling class who sought to learn from Jesus in secret (Jn 3:1-21), and who Jesus regards as a preeminent teacher (Jn 3:10), argues that Jewish law requires they must speak with Jesus prior to condemning Him. The other Pharisees ridicule Nicodemus (“Are you from Galilee too?”), arrogantly asserting “no prophet is to arise from Galilee”; they fail to realize that Jesus’ true birthplace is Bethlehem. Divided, the Jewish leaders return to their own houses.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be awed by the powerful personal Charisma and compelling Oration of Jesus which converts the hearts of skeptical men, even when they have much to lose: the Jewish guards, who owe their livelihood and social connections to the Jewish leaders, courageously refuse direct orders to arrest Jesus; Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin with social status and power at risk, argues for Jesus and is mocked by the other Jewish leaders.
Trust God to unify His men in His Catholic Church
Realize: As was during the Incarnation, in today’s rapidly decaying culture, men remain deeply divided about Jesus: some are blessed to follow Him as fervent Catholics; some deeply love Jesus but remain separated from His Holy Catholic Church; some are confused, lukewarm or lapsed; some reject Him to follow other religions; some reject the reality of God altogether.
Believe: Reflect upon the need for Christians to be Unified (CCC 813-822).
Pray: Almighty Father, help me build the Virtue of Hope so I always trust that You will unify all the baptized into the fullness of faith, found only in Your Holy Catholic Church (CCC 870).
Do your duty by defending the Faith
Realize: Despite the ridicule and danger, Nicodemus courageously defends Jesus from the evil intentions of the Pharisees.
Believe: Reflect upon the Duties of the Confirmed (CCC 1285-1321).
Pray: Jesus, Divine Protector, help me build the Virtue of Defense/Protection (a part of Justice) so I can vigorously fulfill my obligation “to spread and defend the faith by word and deed” (CCC 1285).