4th Week of Lent, Saturday, Mar 28th

Jeremiah 11:18-20 / John 7:40-52 
The crowds speak out about Jesus: Some believed; others did not.

During his presidency, Andrew Jackson offered a pardon to a man who had been completely rehabilitated after committing a serious crime. But the man refused the pardon and insisted on staying in prison. He said that even if he was rehabilitated, he owed a great debt to society. Nothing Jackson, or anyone else, said could convince him to accept the pardon. The lawyers of the time even engaged in a famous debate to determine whether a pardon that was refused was a pardon. Many people in Jesus’ time were like that man. Nothing Jesus could say or do would convince some people to accept his message.
How wedded are we to our own views? It is easier to crack a safe than to crack a closed mind.

Appearances and external images are very important in today's world of status and reputation. Because they form initial impressions for others and that will also determine how far a person can go in the career path. What is equally important besides appearances and image is also a person's background. That will either reinforce or weaken his reputation and status.

In many ways, Jesus had neither that appearance and image that would earn Him a status and reputation that the society of His time would give Him. Added on to that, His Galilean origins (or what was thought was His birthplace) diminished all standing He had with the upper class of society, and He also earned the scorn of the Pharisees.

Yet, Jesus was not perturbed by the criticisms of others or what they thought of Him.

As the 1st reading so rightly prophesied, and as Jesus Himself knew it: The Lord revealed it to me, I was warned. You opened my eyes to their scheming. Yes, more than just discriminating against His status and reputation, the opponents of Jesus were also out to plot against Him and to destroy Him even.

From the experience of life, we know that we cannot judge a book by its cover. Yet, it is the cover that gives us the first impressions. But it is the Lord of hosts who probes the loins and heart. May the Lord also help us to see beyond appearances and impressions to the truth of things.

And may we also move beyond our own appearances and impressions and be true to ourselves and to the Lord.
Lent 4th week, Saturday - Liturgy

It is hard for a person who "has been seduced by God," as Jeremiah says, to be rejected by the very community to which one has dedicated one's life and before which one bears witness to the spiritual. He is a source of division. So was Jesus. Are we willing to take the risks of being Christian, of being signs of contradiction with Christ? If we can, it will surely hurt. We will be contradicted and ridiculed. Can we accept this with equanimity? It has become our responsibility when we were baptized.

Penitential Rite:
-O LORD, my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me, LHM
-Let the malice of the wicked come to an end, but sustain the just, CHM
-A shield before me is God, who saves the upright of heart; LHM

Opening Prayer
Almighty God, when people encountered your Son, he became a source of division: he affected their lives one way or another. May we accept him fully and empty ourselves to make room for him in our everyday life, even when it hurts. Help us, that with him we may always seek and do your will. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

General Intercessions
- That we may accept with serenity when we are contradicted or ridiculed because of our faith, we pray:
- That all those who suffer may put themselves into the hands of God, we pray:
- That Christians may always take sides in favor of what is right and good, we pray:

Prayer over the Gifts
God, our Father, your Son came among us to live before our eyes
the life of a loving Son and a faithful servant. He is now here in our midst. Like him, Lord, may we not seek popularity or peace at any cost. So we ask you to give us the courage to go against the current of opinion when faithfulness to you so demands. We ask you this through Christ our Lord.

Prayer after Communion
God, to be faithful to you and honest with ourselves is not always comfortable. Neither was it for your Son Jesus. We pray you today: May hardships and misunderstanding not fill us with bitterness, but may they be useful in a small way to bring life and hope to us and to our neighbor, as we are united with Jesus, your Son and our Lord for ever.

Homily Prayer:
Lord, what you ask of my life seems so right. It is how I want to live, following your Son, Jesus, so closely. And yet I fail so often to stay on that path. I cannot do it alone, loving Lord. I need your help and guidance. I need to remember your love for me and I want to remember how very much I need you in my life.

The question, “Why Me?,” joins two of the most basic human concerns. It unites our instinctive desire to understand cause & effect with the realization of self. In less sophisticated terms, it might be thought to be the intense curiosity of the cause of hurt, or pain, or injustice. Anyone who has seen a toddler learning to walk when they suddenly fall, knit their brow, and shriek at the ceiling, sees the frustration of that small life coming to a realization of both their limitations but also their independence thwarted. Judgment grows from that second realization. That young mind is outraged at the situation. In a less healthy environment, this mind may eventually become outraged at other things—themselves, those around them, that which they don’t understand.
In no uncertain terms, Jeremiah explains why judgment is being cast upon the chosen people. In John’s Gospel, we see the complex nature of all judgment. As in Jeremiah, we’re reminded that the only true judgment is from God. In John’s Gospel, those who think they know what is right & wrong are misinformed: they know Jesus is from Galilee, not Bethlehem; and, they know that he’s an uneducated outsider in regard to the establishment. Though in the secular position to judge, the authorities remain in a threatening point of stasis in response to Jesus’ actions. The Gospel outlines a clear path towards the sacrifice of the Lenten season. It also stresses clearly who ultimately has the right to judge and call for such sacrifice. And it is not this rich, exalted and self-satisfied bunch.
I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t asked “Why me?” at one point in their lives. (The snarky answer might be, “why not?”) But if we believe in a universe with a plan, there ought to be a reason somewhere. In which case, if there is, we’re presuming to demand an answer from the creator of this plan and our reason for being. Instead, shouldn’t we be trusting on the path that we were sent on to do the best work of which we’re capable in spite of those obstacles? The judges in the Gospel were misinformed just as many of those who judge us will have no idea who we really are or what we’re about. Let them dictate your actions, or wail against them, and that divine plan which so many believe in will be thwarted much more effectively than the wrinkled rug which trips a toddler.