Saturday of the 4th Week of Lent
Discussion about the Origins of the Messiah
A study was made in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. for teenage prostitutes. During interviews, they were asked: “Is there anything you needed most and couldn’t get?” Their response, invariably preceded by sadness and tears, was unanimous: “What I needed most was someone to listen to me; someone who cared enough to listen to me.”
In today’s gospel Jesus speaks and the people, including His enemies, listen to Him. They exclaim: “This is truly the prophet; this is truly the Messiah!” Even the temple guards who are tasked by the Pharisees to bring Jesus to them listen too. As a result, they do not arrest Him because they are deeply moved by what He says and for the fact that nobody speaks like Him (v. 46). They were astonished and amazed when they heard Him preaching and saw Him performing miracles. They are touched and changed by His words and so therefore, they go to authorities and report to them what have happened but empty-handed. They are overwhelmed by His words.
On the other hand, the Pharisees and some of their counterparts do not believe in Him because of His home address. Yesterday’s gospel passage talked about His divine origin and now this passage is talking about His human origin. And so many times even the place where we come from greatly influences the judgment of people about us or at least their first impression on us. If we say we come from Manila, they are greatly impressed. It is because they imagine we are sophisticated, modern and wise in the ways of the world, intelligent and well-informed. But if we say we come from Jolo, Sulu then they easily look down on us and many prejudices come out against us. This kind of reaction is as old as human nature itself.
It is not surprising that we find it also at the time of Jesus. Even the good Nathanael reacts negatively when he learns that Jesus is from Nazareth: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he asks (John 1:46). The Chief Priests and Pharisees do not accept Jesus as the Messiah primarily because according to them He is of Galilean origin and not from Bethlehem and not of David’s lineage. They claim that Jesus has not convinced the educated people like them and so therefore He is not the Messiah. They use their power and authority to persuade the crowd against Jesus.
But when we listen to Jesus’ words, we cannot remain unchanged and untouched. And so let us take this opportunity in celebrating this season of Lent to heighten our contact with His Words. Listening to it in the liturgy, reading it in the Bible, loving it and putting it into practice, bringing healing and health to our heart, mind and body and breathe new life into our soul. And if we put them into action too, then we will even have a better understanding of what it means to be the living Word of God.
At the end as we continue reflecting God’s words, let us listen to these words from the gospel of Luke that says: “The seed is the word of God,” (8:2). And also from St. Francis de Sales, he says: “Listen with devotion to the Word of God, whether you hear it in familiar conversation with your spiritual friends or at a sermon. Make all the profit of it you possibly can, and suffer it not to fall to the ground, but receive it into your heart as a precious balm, imitating the most holy Virgin, who preserved carefully in her heart all the words which were spoken in praise of her Son. Remember that our Lord gathers up the words we speak to Him in our prayers, according as we gather up those He speaks to us by preaching.”