Unguarded Hearts

(from the 2010 Magnificat Lenten Companion)

The Pharisees ask the guards, "Why did you not bring him?" The guards answer, "Never before has anyone spoken like this one" (Jn 7:45-46). Jesus performs no miraculous deed that persuades the guards to keep their hands off of him. Nor are they caught up in a riotous cult of celebrity where all swoon that the Christ is among them, for the crowd members are clearly divided in their reactions. The guards are disarmed solely by the force and frankness of Jesus' words. The guards, unlike the Pharisees, do not fortify their own hearts against the possibility that God's Word might come into their midst, even by way of Galilee; they remain receptive, rather than antagonistic, toward the One whom others so easily dismiss by raising bogus grounds for disqualification - ultimately rejecting God himself. The guards, in fact, have brought Jesus to the Pharisees in the words that have begun to take up residence in them through nonviolent means. But they cannot hand him over to persons whose hearts have become cement block cells of the lasw in their contempt for most of men. The guards were used to being treated as mere instruments enacting the machinations of others; now they have the chance to realize that God's words are meant to enlist them - and us - in a legislative plan of peace.

Reflection based on John 7:40-53
Father William M. Joensen

Dissolve the protective barriers I would set up against
those through whom you would come to me, Lord God -
including cordons of origin and occupation -
so that I may be receptive to your Son's words,
and ready to embrace the peace he brings us.

Today's suggested penance: Pray in a special way to the Blessed Virgin Mary.