4th Saturday in Lent
Jeremiah 11: 18-20; John 7: 40-53
“Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more” (Jer. 11:19). This passage taken from today’s first reading tells us much about the prophet and the troublesome times he lived in. Imagine. People he loved and to whom he proclaimed the message of the Lord were plotting to kill him. Because the words they heard from the prophet were not words they wanted to hear, they sought to silence the messenger. A strange note from history: while the people sought to end Jeremiah’s life, he outlived many of his enemies. It is reassuring to know that God is with us and knows everything we have to endure in His service. Under His provident gaze, we will find the strength to overcome evil with good.
I wonder how many of the Pharisees who were plotting Jesus arrest and ultimate death were in the Temple when he was 12 years old and watched Him mature over the years. How had their admiration of the youth changed to murderous hate? With the passage of time, these scholars of the Law had made the words spoken against Jeremiah their own. “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more” (Jer. 11:19). The Psalmist offered this beautiful reflection: “Even man’s wrath will praise You, its survivors will stand and worship You” (Ps. 76:10).
The intrigues of Christ’s enemies are totally contrary to all reason. They need to be seen as the consequence of hatred and prejudice. In their folly, they were rejecting God’s chosen Who was sent to bring them to the fullness of life. Jesus Christ, Who is meek and humble of heart endured the rejection of His own people and absorbed the hatred of the world, and offered no retaliation. We have much to learn. We live in an angry and vengeful world that can only be healed by forgiveness. Because God knows that we are weak and vulnerable human beings, He sets limits to the evils around us, just like he sets limits to the raging of the sea. In the midst of our distress, let us seek His favor as our portion and surrender all our concerns to him. Unlike those who were plotting against Christ and scattered each to their own homes, may we find our dwelling place close to the heart of Christ.