The Gospel reading for today presents us with three different groups of people, each group having a different reaction to Jesus. Some recognize him as a prophet. The Temple guards simply do not know what to make of Jesus. Finally the Pharisees are unwilling to even contemplate the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah because they think that he comes from Nazareth of Galilee.
We also get to see Nicodemus again. In the midst of the dissension about Jesus, he stands up and repudiates the notion that Jesus should be condemned without a just trial. It is obvious that his previous meeting with Jesus has brought about a change of heart although he still doesn’t know what to make of Jesus.
We all know how this story will play out. Ultimately, like all the prophets before him, Jesus will be sacrificed and put to death. He will be led like a lamb to the slaughter, fulfilling the prophecy that we hear in the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah.
As we celebrate the Eucharist this morning, I am sure that all of us identify ourselves as a member of the first group, the one who recognize Jesus as a prophet, as the Messiah, and as the Son of God. However, recognizing Jesus is only a part of the process. If we truly recognize him, then we must follow that mental recognition with a spirit of repentance. Repentance is not simply a matter of becoming a nicer person. Repentance is the life-long process of stripping ourselves of our preconceived notions. We do not have all the answers. Today we ask ourselves what more is God asking of us. How can we follow him more closely? What more is asked of us? The task of repentance is never at an end.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator