They Became Enraged!
“The Pharisees watched Jesus closely…so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.” If we look long enough at anyone, we will always find some sort of defect. But with Christ, there is no defect; there is only mercy, compassion and love. The Pharisees tried hard and long to find the strings that were attached to Christ's “miracles”, but could not find any. They followed him to look for signs of hypocrisy, they found none. They looked for a reason to accuse him, and when they could find none, they created their own stories and brought in their own witnesses or accomplices.
Not all the Pharisees chose this route. A few who did not understand him listened to him and learned a great deal from him. One, Nicodemus, came to him at night and sought his counsel. He, along with others, became “nighttime disciples.” They believed in him but from a safe distance. But most Pharisees chose not to listen to Jesus at all. Instead, they observed and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. They never took the time to understand him so they learned nothing from him. They are similar to too many police officers that come to patrol pro-life or pro-family demonstrations but never bother to listen to what is being said. They are too busy maintaining the peace!
How easy it is to turn our heads away in disgust and disbelief when we choose not to open our hearts to someone greater than I. And there is always someone greater than I in our midst. There is only One God, and I am not him! The Lord Jesus came to save, not to condemn. He reached out and touched the man with the withered hand. The humble were amazed at his power. The mighty became enraged! How could anyone become enraged at a miracle? How could anyone not be moved by the scene? Encaged is a word that sounds very similar to enraged. Both would be fitting in describing the hearts and minds of those who choose not to believe. This is the one case where “seeing is not believing.” There would be many more like it in the life of Christ. “Come down from the Cross and then we will believe!” is the only time the Pharisees request a miracle. But in reality, it is not a request but a jest! It is man trying to tell God what to do! Truly, there is no room for Christ in the world - no physical space to rest his head and no room for Christ in our hearts or minds. If it isn’t curing on the Sabbath that does me in, then it could be something else, you name it! It’s not too hard to see in our lives where we may have become similar to a Pharisee.
Today, instead of being enraged, let us be encouraged by the clarity of Christ’s message and of his love and mercy to those who call out to him. Let us ask the Lord to open wide our hearts and minds so that instead of discussing together what we might do to Jesus, we could gather together, two or more in his name, and discuss what Jesus could do for us.
By Fr. Alphonse