In our lenten gospel for today from St. John (7th chapter) Jesus goes up from Galilee to Jerusalem where some “ were trying to kill him.” He celebrates the feast of Tabernacles, a popular autumn feast that draws crowds of visitors to the city. At his return in the spring for Passover, his enemies will fulfill their plans. Now, he draws the attention of “the inhabitants of the city.”
Who are they? They’re not the leaders who will later put him to death. They’re the ordinary public who
know what’s happening in the city, who follow the trends and pass the gossip. They watch Jesus with curiosity as he enters the temple area and begins to teach. “Do our leaders now believe he’s the Messiah?” “How can he be, because he’s from Galilee and no one will know where the Messiah is from?”
Here are the voices of those who go back and forth, the undecided who wait to see who wins before taking sides. Jesus cried out against them, because they think they know what’s going on but know nothing. They’re blind to the Word in their midst.
Unfortunately, whether we’re learned theologians, or practiced priests, or informed church-goers, we can be like the “inhabitants of Jerusalem.” We need to humble ourselves before God. Prayer helps us see what’s real; it’s a way of taking sides, the right side.