Acts 4:23-31; Ps 2:1-4-7a,7b-9; Jn 3:1-8
One of the functions of humor is derision. People make jokes about others to “put them in their place,” or to keep them there. It’s not the kind of humor that most would consider “politically correct,” unless you are in the right group and talking about the correct group. It is the kind of humor that is attempted quite frequently. As a matter of fact we often laugh quite without thinking, and after that relief we feel just a bit embarrassed. Then our latent virtue kicks in and we vow never to tell that joke…and of course we do remember it and in the right crowd, the safe context, we may let it slip out to evoke yet another peal of laughter. So what’s The One Enthroned in Heaven doing—deriding them? What? Is the LORD God Almighty being non-PC?
Perhaps the Almighty’s reaction to rebellion has nothing to do with political correctness. Perhaps the psalm is using derision to help the believer deal with unbelief, hostile unbelief. Saints Peter, John and the early church are dealing with the folly of unbelief, “the princes gathered together against the LORD and his anointed.” The LORD God Almighty has fulfilled his promise to send the Son of David to inherit the ends of the earth. The Sovereign LORD, who made heaven and earth, has sent his holy Servant Jesus, the anointed one, to begin the reign of God on earth. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the psalmist, King David, is able to prophesy about how the providence of God would be handled by the priests and elders of the people. Except for a jubilant welcome by the crowds on Palm Sunday, the leaders both Jewish and Gentile oppose the Messiah. Saint Luke in the Book of Acts identifies such an unexpected cooperation, such utter folly, when he uses Psalm 2 to understand the violence the Lord Jesus encountered in his ministry and in his passion. As with the Lord so with his disciples, the servants of the Lord Jesus too have threats leveled against them. Such verbal violence does not hinder their witness. They find complete confidence in stretching out their hands and praying for the cures, signs, and wonders needed to continue the mission of the Lord Jesus. Such verbal vigilance is responded to with a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit shaking the place where they prayed and providing confidence when they preached.
In Saint John’s Gospel one of the Pharisees, a member of the Sanhedrin, comes in the night of ignorance seeking the light of Christ. Until this point in the Gospel all of the leaders have had only hostile reactions toward the Lord Jesus teaching; Nicodemus has a very fragile belief, a limited faith in the Lord Jesus. As the Lord encourages his faith, he reveals that everyone must be begotten from above. The Greek word used means both “from above” and “again”. Nicodemus gets stuck on the temporal meaning and asks the Lord Jesus, “can he return to his mother’s womb and be born all over again?” Why are you speaking foolishness teacher come from God? With absolutely no derision, the Divine Teacher explains that life in the Kingdom of God can only come about by the action of the Spirit. No political power, no intellectual activity, no military intervention, can force anyone to become a part of the Kingdom. In a world that finds truth only in scientific method, believers have a bold faith witness to make. Strength for such a mission comes only from the Holy Spirit who consecrates us and the Eucharistic bread and wine so that we have a taste of the future Kingdom of God in the here and now.