The Holy Gospel according to John (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: First, some background. What is the Feast of Tabernacles? This feast is one of three pilgrimage festivals where the Israelites would travel to the Temple in Jerusalem. The other two were Passover and Shavuot, which marked the wheat harvest. The Feast of Tabernacles is also called ‘Sukkot’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘booths’ or ‘tents’. Just like the Israelites roaming the desert before them, the Jewish people constructed makeshift tents for the feast to commemorate their liberation from Egypt by the hand of God. This joyful holiday is a recognition of God’s salvation, shelter, provision, and trustworthiness.
Jesus, being the observant Jew, went secretly to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast. He went secretly because he knew that the Jews were after him to kill him. They did not understand who Jesus was. They only knew that he broke the Mosiac law of the Sabbath by doing good works. Jesus also challenged them and their assumptions. The leaders of Israel could not see how God could possible be present in the man before them. When Jesus spoke of God’s mercy, they bristled because they thought he was offering it too freely. As far as they were concerned, Jesus did no adhere to their traditions. They accused him of blasphemy, making himself equal to God.
Usually, when someone his trying to be sneaky or to hide, that person would not be standing on a street corner saying, “Look, here I am. Over here, it is me!” But that is what Jesus was doing in this Gospel. He was speaking “openly” and nobody realized he was the Christ. They did not recognize him. They were blinded by their assumptions of who they thought Jesus was.
Sometimes, we are the same way. We make the same mistake. We are blinded and do not realize that God is with us all the time. God is always ready to offer us his mercy, compassion and forgiveness, especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In this sacrament, we meet our Lord face to face and he offers us his mercy and forgiveness.
Action for the day: Lent is winding down. Before Lent is over, may we encounter the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. If we have not done so, go and look for an opportunity to make a good confession and let God show you his heart of mercy and love.