Official Biblical, Liturgical, "Good News" readings.

March 31, 2017


Judging vs. Loving People

Reading 1 – WIS 2:1A, 12-22

The wicked said among themselves,
thinking not aright:
“Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the LORD.
To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,
Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the just
and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”
These were their thoughts, but they erred;
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they knew not the hidden counsels of God;
neither did they count on a recompense of holiness
nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.

Responsorial Psalm – PS 34:17-18, 19-20, 21 and 23

R. (19A) The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress he rescues them.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.
Many are the troubles of the just man,
but out of them all the LORD delivers him.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.
He watches over all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
The LORD redeems the lives of his servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in him.
R. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

Verse Before the Gospel – MT 4:4B

One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.

Gospel – Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
“Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.

Reflection

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” –St. Teresa of Calcutta

St. Paul makes it very clear most emphatically in his Letter to the Romans that humanity is lost without the Gospel. And yet, Christians cannot hide behind precepts and regulations and mount some kind of superior plane or landing from which to judge people and forget that we, that is, all of humanity, are in the same boat.  In the Book of Wisdom, this empty attitude of superiority is echoed in the cry of the arrogant: “The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: ‘Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us.’”  Who do you think really sounds obnoxious?

The Scriptures, especially all the writings of St. Paul, explain that the final judgment will be a review of performance, not of privilege. From this perspective believers stand on an equal footing with non- or pre- believers, and no one can condemn the sins of others without condemning themselves.

Our Second Reading solidifies this position: “These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them.”

St. John in our Gospel passage today continues and completes this thought for us by underscoring what this blindness of pride and religious arrogance accomplishes: “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.”

“The worst prison,” St. John Paul wrote, “would be a closed heart,” and this is precisely why you and must know the difference between judging and admonishing. Arrogant judgment condemns because it is motivated by pride; admonishing the sinner liberates because it is motivated by love. Each produces very different results. One if from God, the other clearly not.

CityOfAgape Candle light warmthAs we move closer and closer to Holy Week, the effects of our fasting and charitable behavior are now more important than ever. If we allow another Easter to pass by without anything to show for it in our souls, then we risk the awful possibility of acting and thinking just like those in the Scriptures who hated the just and despised Christ and the early Church.  The stakes are high. Trust Jesus with all your heart. Never worry about the evil you see or confront because God has made a promise and He stands by it with the blood of His Son: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” (Responsorial Psalm)

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