March 12, 2016
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
The good news for the Day
The Jewish authorities said: “These people, ignorant of the important traditions of our society, are just so damn dumb (‘cursed’).” Nicodemus, a colleague who had earlier come to Jesus, argued with them, “Does our law condemn a man before it hears him out and discovers what he is doing?” They attacked him: “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you? Check and see: no prophet comes up out of Galilee.” (John 7, 49-52)
Jesus and official authorities did not get along. “They” attacked not his teaching, but his origin—using a common prejudice against “Galileans,” lower class working people, carpenters and fishermen, whose dialect sounded “different,” like a Southerner, Hispanic, or Bostonian.
What is the Good News, though—the message of encouragement, relief and freedom in these few sentences?
You yourself have fearing, hostile feelings about some groups—prejudices towards people different from you. One of the characteristics of “this generation” is to judge people different from you as “less” than you—to look down on them. In our culture we have a superiority attitude—“I am—we are—better than you –whoever you are—because you’re different.”
You know differently, of course. Judging individuals because of prejudice is wrong—you know that. Everyone IS your brother or sister. Many of us, nonetheless, tend automatically to expect danger, dumbness or deficiency in people who belong to groups whose culture is different from “mine.” You behave in ways that imply “they” are beneath you. It is common; it is part of your and my acquiescing to this life, this time, and this community.
The Good News is your courage in facing this culture to accept and welcome people different from you. With Jesus—you are counter-culture.