Sunday, July 8, 2018

When God Speaks

July 8, 2018: 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 2:2–5 / Psalm 123 / 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 / Mark 6:1–6a
When God Speaks

God has been speaking throughout eternity. John opens his Gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Scripture begins with Genesis saying that God spoke all that exists into being; at the core of creation are the words, And God said…. 

God’s speech has continued coming into the world since the beginning of creation. The Psalmist affirms (19:1–4):
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

God also speaks specifically in special and explicit ways through people he chooses and inspires. The writer to the Hebrews starts his letter saying, In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets (1:1). Then the letter gives the culminating point that is the basis of our Christian Faith: in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature (1:2–3a). This is why Jesus told Philip, He who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9).

Today’s readings give us some insight into how and why God speaks. This is important because, since God is always speaking into our world––and to each one of us, we need to know what to listen for and how to understand what God is saying. One big clue is in the closing book of Scripture. Jesus says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20). God speaks to us so we can know him and love him and have an ongoing relationship with him!

Sometimes God says hard things. He says things we do not want to hear. He says things that we cannot understand if we are not open to what he is wanting to do. God sent Ezekiel to speak to people who had rejected him. Even though Israel had the special graces of God’s redemption and revelation, they rebelled and closed their hearts, choosing to do what seemed more pleasurable than obeying God. In spite of that––in spite of rebellion and disobedience and some awful sins–– God still speaks to them. This is to let us know that our sin is not bigger than God’s Father-heart. God always longs for us to truly know him and live under his blessings.

God spoke another way through St Paul. This time the focus is on the messenger rather than the recipients. Yet it still a hard word from a human point of view. Israel, as the recipient of Ezekiel’s words, was being rebuked for her sins; Paul, as the messenger of God’s words, was struggling with what he called a thorn in the flesh. We aren’t sure what this was, but it was something so hard and so discouraging to Paul that he confesses he asked the Lord three times to remove it from his life. All three times the prayer of St Paul, the spiritual giant, was rejected.

Why does our loving Father not take a hard thing away when we humbly, and yet in the strong name of Jesus, ask him for relief? Paul says it was so he could understand something deeper––something that only comes through weakness and suffering. God says, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

One of the most dangerous times in our spiritual lives is when things are going so well that we think we’re doing pretty good by ourselves. Paul understood that God had given him a hard thing to keep me from being too elated. When God speaks through people, it important that it is clear it is God who speaking and working, and not the self-promotion of the human messenger. So even with St Paul, the Lord chose to speak through a “wounded servant.”

This should not surprise us (but it seems to do so––continually) because God spoke his ultimate Truth through his Suffering Servant Son. We see this in today’s Gospel. After being out in ministry in neighboring towns, Jesus went back home. He was ridiculed and rejected. As I said earlier, the Lord says things that we cannot understand if we are not open to what he is wanting to do.

The rejection of Jesus in his home town was a preview of what was to come. His final rejection was the cross, and as he hung there the onlookers ridiculed his seeming helplessness. Yet God was “speaking” the ultimate Word. It was the full expression of Life through the Son’s death on the cross! This is our Faith! And it is wonderful…. but it is not easy.

God is speaking today.

To people addicted to their sins, God is saying “you know this is wrong; please let me come in.” 

To people who feel crushed with weakness and pain and stress, God is saying, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.


To all of us, God is saying that being open to Jesus––having faith in Jesus––is wisdom and life and eternal salvation.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Good News in a Hard World

July 1, 2018: 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wisdom 1:13–15, 2:23–24 / Psalm 30 / 2 Corinthians 8:7,9, 13–15 / Mark 5:21–43
Good News in a Hard World

We do not need to be convinced we live in a hard world, but we should regularly think about what that means for Christian Faith. In my rather small circle of what I consider to be “close” family and friends are ongoing issues of cancer, acute financial insecurity, relational stress, and imprisonment. At Pastoral Council this past week we heard a ministry report about people only ten miles from our church who are never sure from day to day if they will have enough to eat. It is hard to follow national and international news because the stories are often so awful and seemingly next to impossible to solve.

If all of us were open and honest, we would admit there is no one who goes through life with no serious worries and struggles. Today’s Gospel tells us of two scenarios where people are hurting. One is Jairus, a synagogue official––a man of relative wealth and high position––whose twelve-year-old daughter is at the point of death. The other is a poor woman––a socially “insignificant” person––who had suffered from a chronic hemorrhage for twelve years. Stress and suffering has no respect for social status. Hard things can and do hit any and every one.

The Gospel proceeds to tell of the power of God and the gracious healing action of Jesus. This is the essence of the Good News. God is more powerful than the awful things in this world. Jesus has come into our world to turn what seems “natural” upside down and to give a hope that the brokenness we see and experience in the created order will be healed.

When Jesus was on earth he healed some people. In today’s reading he healed the woman and even raised the young girl from her death bed. Yet nowhere does Scripture or the Christian Tradition claim that Jesus healed everyone around him who was ill or distressed.

On one level this is one of the great unanswerable questions. If God is all powerful and loving, why doesn’t he heal everyone? Why does he allow awful things at all?!

As Christians, we need to have a good grasp of the early story line of our Faith. The Wisdom reading affirms the initial two chapters of Genesis: God created the world very good. Wisdom is explicit: God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living….. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him.

Because God created us in his image—rational, creative, and volitional, we were created with the ability to make real choices. The most basic of those choices is whether or not to honor God as our Creator and so obey him as Sovereign Lord. Writing to the Romans, St Paul summarizes what happened: Humans have made the choice not [to] accord him as God, and there was an  awful result––they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened (Romans 1:21). Our human parents made a choice that brought brokenness (Christian theology calls this the Fall) not only in human nature; the whole physical universe has been affected: creation was made subject to futility (Romans 8:20).

And so we have stories like Jairus and his daughter, and the afflicted woman. We have awful reports in our news. And we face hard thing in our own lives and the lives of those we love. This is because God allows the effects of bad decisions made by millions of people throughout history to happen. God honors the image of his own nature he created in us, and that includes being able to make real (even if awful) choices. But beyond our limited choices, God is still at work to restore all of creation to fullness of life.

In the meantime, the big issue is how we handle these things. One popular way in our culture is to be entertained to distraction. Keep life full. Try not to think about the bad things. Have as much fun as possible. Focus on dreams of accomplishments and purchases and vacations that we hope are yet to come. That works…. for a while.

But how do we really handle the hard things? My wife’s father is fighting a battle with late-stage cancer right now. It’s not something that is going to go away. What is real and sure and lasting when all that is temporal is going to be lost?

The Gospel tells us that this world does not have the last word. The battles we face and fight are not between equal forces of good and evil. God formed man to be imperishable.

God is the author of life, not death. No matter what the hard circumstances might be, God is greater. Goodness and life are always at work, even in the hard things.

I had a close friendship with a psychiatrist in one of my previous congregations. I once asked him, out of all the horrible things he heard from many of his patients, what surprised him the most. His answer totally surprised me; he said, “The one thing that surprises me the most is how so many people are able to function as normally as they do.” For all the awful broken things he helped people deal with, he saw the power of God’s life and grace at work beyond anything he could understand or ever take credit for.

God does not magically “undo” a world that has been affected by that choice long ago to let a power other than the Lord of all to have influence. But God will not allow the power of sin and death to have the last word. In his Son he has shown us what happens when Death tries to extinguish the Light. John starts his Gospel saying, The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. [Yet] the true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.


That Light came visibly and powerful into the lives of Jairus, his daughter, and the afflicted woman. Jesus is about to come to us yet again in the Mystery of the Eucharist. Keep your life open to Jesus. The Light and Life of God himself is here for all of us.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

God At Work

June 24, 2018 –– The Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist
VIGIL: Jeremiah 1:4–10) / Psalm 71 / 1 Peter 1:8–12/ Luke 1:5–17
DAY: Isaiah 49:1–6 / Psalm 139 / Acts 13:22–26 / Luke 1:57–66, 80
God At Work

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist. Usually the death of a saint marks the time of memorializing, and the Church honors the death of John the Baptist, too. Why is his birth celebrated?

One reason is John’s direct connection with the coming of Jesus. John was six months older than Jesus, so recognizing John’s birth comes into focus six months before Christmas. And Scripture clearly says that John was sent to prepare the way for Jesus.

John is one of the biblical personalities in whom we explicitly see God at work. His birth was marked by the miraculous; Zechariah and Elizabeth were childless and past usual child-bearing age. His birth was announced by an angel. The angel said that the child would be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. John was preordained by the Lord for a specific ministry: he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Again, John was sent to prepare people for the coming of the Son of God.

Some people seem to bear an obvious mark of being called by God. We see that throughout the Scriptures. David was explicitly chosen. Isaiah opens his prophecy by saying The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. The same is true for Jeremiah; he tells his hearers: the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

It helps to remember that the Bible is very selective. It covers thousands of years of history, so we are given some of the most significant movements of God as he was unfolding his total plan of salvation. Yet it is also true that God has always been at work in our world. Jesus was the Lamb, which was slain from the beginning of the world (Rev 13:8). Paul tells the Colossians that in [Christ] everything in heaven and on earth was created, and not only created, but in him everything continues in being. There is not a split second or a fraction of space where God is not present and giving order to all that is.

Among the nameless millions of people who span history and inhabit our world right now, God chooses to manifest himself in conspicuous ways in some (actually, a very few). This is meant to open our minds and hearts to wonder…. and to hunger and thirst for God.

If God overwhelmed everyone with definitive calling and gifts, the work of faith and its ability to stretch our souls and deepen love for God would be compromised. God does enough to show us, to encourage us, to give us grace and strength so that our souls can be brought to new life and healed.

We should not doubt nor be discouraged if our personal spiritual journey is not as strong or as observable as that of someone else––and especially not as incredible as the greatest biblical heroes.

God moved in and through John the Baptist so that people, even down to today, might take a second look and consider what God is doing. We are all invited to believe that as God worked so demonstrably in John the Baptist (and others), we can dare to trust that God is at work in our own lives even apart from personal visits by angels or a definitive word at the time of our birth.

The psalmist was writing for all of us when he said:

Truly you have formed my inmost being;
   you knit me in my mother’s womb.

….every one of my days was decreed
    before one of them came into being.

Okay, your name (and mine) is not known by the whole Church (the way John’s is), but…. God knows your name, and he wants to write his name on your heart so you are his forever.

The second Vigil reading is for all of us:

Beloved: Although you have not seen Jesus Christ you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


God is always at work for our salvation. God sent John the Baptist because he was about to send his Son. His is the one Name that needs to be known above all others––Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Answer to Jesus’ Prayer

May 13, 2018 –– 7th Sunday of Easter
Acts 1:15–17, 20a, 20c–26 / Psalm 103: 1–2, 11–12, 19–20 / 1 John 4:11–16 / John 17:11b–19
The Answer to Jesus’ Prayer

Think of the people you love the most. What are your greatest concerns and desires for them? The Gospel reading takes us into the intimacy of prayer between Jesus and the Father. It’s the night before Jesus goes to the cross and we are allowed to look into the deepest desires that our Lord has for his followers. Two of his key concerns are unity and truth.

He prays: for them… you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. Jesus wants us to have the oneness he has with the Father! And how the devil has sought to destroy the unity of God’s people! Christians are divided by ethnicity, nationality, economics, sexuality, and doctrine––just to mention some of the most significant. How can we be one? In our fractured world, what could possibly be a unifier?

The simple answer is another of the desires we hear from Jesus: Consecrate them in your truth. Your word is truth. That is a “simple” answer, but applying it is anything but simple. We live in a culture that has given up on truth. Some say there is no absolute truth. Some say truth is too complicated to understand even if it exists. Some want truth to be a subjective (personal) decision so that “I have my truth and you have your truth.” Almost everyone would agree that the issue of truth is complicated and hard. How can truth unify us unless we know what truth is?!

If we are prepared to believe Jesus, he tells us right here in his prayer. As he calls on the Father he says Your word is truth. That is a primary issue for all of us. Are we ready to surrender our own ideas of what is true to what God says? If so, we are ready for a second question: How do we discern what God says? The second reading speaks to one facet of this: This is how we know… that he has given us of his Spirit. What is the result of having God’s Spirit? A person acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God; (so that) God remains in him and he in God. That is still a bit abstract, so John gives a tangible application––love.

This is not sentimentality. This is not whatever makes us personally feel good. The love John exalts in his first letter is God’s kind of love––the kind of love that sacrifices for the good of another…. the kind of love that causes the Spirit of Jesus to make us more and more like him.

Yet this still takes discernment. How do know what is true about Jesus? We find that our Lord has provided that. In the first reading Peter, as the leader of the other apostles, says it is necessary that the place vacated by Judas be filled by one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, and so become with us a witness to his resurrection. The way we know Jesus––what he said and what he did and what it all means––is that he provided for eye-witnesses to establish Apostolic Teaching and successive continuity.

In the early 1970s Charles Colson was President Nixon’s “hatchet man” going into the Watergate scandal. He was convicted along with a few others for obstruction of justice. Going from one of the most powerful positions in the nation to jail resulted in his conversion to Christian Faith. Reflecting on that he later gave a compelling reason why we can trust the eye-witnesses to whom Jesus entrusted the Church:

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned, and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world––and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible!

God, in his great love, has given us his Son as atonement for our sins and raised him from the dead to give us victory over death and the hope of eternal life. We can dare believe this because our Lord also gave us a Church founded on an Apostolic Authority––men who were eye-witnesses, and then gave credibility to their testimony by their consistency and courage and continuity.

The unbelieving world around us grasps for something stable; we as Christians have every reason to believe we know the truth of God. Beyond all the lesser issues that divide our society––and even our Christian communities––we have a Church that is rooted in truth.

If we believe God’s truth with passion and allow it to have priority over all other issues, then we can trust our Lord to make us one. As that happens, we will begin to love more and more like Jesus.

And then this prayer that Jesus prayed on the night before his death will become a living reality––even in you and me. We can be the answer to Jesus’ prayer!


Lord, make it so….


Sunday, April 22, 2018

The One Way of Salvation

April 22, 2018 –– 4th Sunday of Easter
Acts 4:8–12 / from Psalm 118 / 1 John 3:1–2 / John 10:11–18
The One Way of Salvation

Peter was bold, even confrontational, in his proclamation that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. That message has often brought a negative reaction. The Early Church Fathers understood this, and even added to it when they wrote: No one can call God “Father” apart from having the Church as “Mother.”

There are two fundamental questions: 1) Is Jesus the only Savior? and, 2) Is conscious knowledge of Christ necessary for salvation?

Universalism (or pluralism) wants to say that there are many paths to God, and Jesus is only one of them. If there are many paths to God, it follows that people do not have to believe in Christ to be saved. This is the popular opinion that gets big press in contemporary expression. This opinion is also at odds with Christian Faith and what the Church believes and teaches.

At the other end of the spectrum from universalism is exclusivism. It answers both questions with a ‘Yes.' The exclusivist believes that Jesus alone has done what is necessary to save sinners, and second, that explicit knowledge of and faith in Christ is necessary for anyone to be saved. Some extreme Protestants push this narrow application.

In the middle––and reflecting the teaching of the Church––is what might be called inclusivism. This answers the first question, ‘Yes,' and the second question, ‘No.' Only Jesus Christ has accomplished what is necessary to make salvation possible, but it is “possible” for people to be saved by responding whole-heartedly to God's revelation in creation and perhaps through the partial truths that exist in other religions. So, even though Christ is the only Savior, it is “possible” (but not simple) for people to be saved apart from explicit knowledge of and faith in Jesus.

The first part of this truth is not negotiable for true Christian Faith. This is what Peter proclaimed in his sermon: There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. This is in continuity with Jesus saying, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:9). In modern ears this sounds bigoted and hateful. Some will not accept that Jesus said such a thing, but the only Jesus we have is the Jesus that comes to us through the witness of Scripture. The witness of Scripture does not allow us to pick and choose according to what suits our individual taste and comfort, and Jesus did say some hard and exclusive things.

This is why faithful Christian witness is so crucial. People need to know who Jesus is and what God has done in the death and resurrection of his Son. The Church needs faithful preachers. Parishes need faithful teachers. But beyond the roles that are rooted so visibly in the Church, every person who owns the name of Christ needs to be showing (and when possible, telling) the wonder of belonging to God through Jesus Christ. At the core of who we are is the thrust of evangelization: God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life (John 3:16).

The objecting question always comes: What about all the people who have never heard of Jesus?  In our shrinking world we are quite aware of millions who have not heard the name of Jesus. What about people whose understanding of Jesus is totally skewed because of distorted teachings and horrible examples?

This does not change what God has done and what he offers and intends. John followed the famous “3:16” verse saying, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Today’s Gospel extends this when Jesus says he is the (not “a”) Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. God is love.

God has made salvation possible in one way––through Jesus Christ. Peter said it so plainly: There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved. So, how can anyone be saved by Jesus without an explicit encounter with Jesus?

This is one subject where the reflection and insight and authority of the Church is so helpful. Study what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in #841. Read the Second Vatican document Lumen Gentium (#14). But to give some idea here of what the Church has said, Pope Pius XII projected that people outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church can be “related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire.” It is “possible” to find the grace of God outside a conscious encounter with Christ and his Church. In the case of one who is ignorant of the truth of Catholic Faith, “through no fault of [his] own,” he can be saved, if he is truly “invincibly ignorant, [is] given the supernatural virtue of faith and [has] perfect charity in [his heart]” (cf. Instruction of Holy Office of Dec. 20, 1949). Yet this is no reason for presumption.

We must remember that we are not the judges of salvation. We do not know who is truly “invincibly ignorant” and who is not. Only God can know if a person has “perfect charity of heart.” God is the sole and final––and merciful––judge. But for any measure of assurance, we need to embrace the graces that come through Jesus and his Church. This means evangelization is crucially important. Each of us needs to embrace and proclaim the message of the Church––the message that Peter proclaimed at the very beginning: There is no salvation through anyone else…. no other name by which we are to be saved.

We leave the judging to God; we need to be clear about that. At the same time, we also hold onto the truth that salvation is only in Jesus Christ. There are two huge things at stake here: 1) Each one of us must embrace Jesus and all that means; this is our own salvation. 2) Each of us should consider what it means to be a faithful witness; another person’s salvation may depend on it.


Knowing Jesus as the only way is our hope. Showing Jesus as the only way is our message.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Resurrection!


April 1, 2018 –– Easter Sunday
Acts 10:34a, 37–43 / from Psalm 118 / Colossians 3:1–4 / John 20:1–9
Resurrection!

Christ is risen! This has been the exultant cry of the Church since that first Easter Morning when the disciples’ sadness was turned to an incredible joy. Yet on this Easter Sunday there is a Culture of Death that surrounds us, threatening us and always wanting to turn our joy into fear and sadness. Pope Francis wrote an Easter meditation that asks: “Why is it that there is so much adversity….?” There is constant bad news on TV. We wake during the night with worries––how to pay the bills, a child who's struggling in school or with friends, the needs of aging parents, the boss that can never be satisfied, the marriage that's falling apart, the son or daughter fighting depression, a friend who has cancer…. These kinds of stresses feel heavy all the time. How does the Resurrection apply to the nitty-gritty?

The message of Easter is that the very Life of God breaks into our world––this world where there is little escape from fear and sadness. It seems there is no escape…. unless there is something bigger and stronger and longer lasting. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is God shouting into our word that death itself is not greater than the Life available to us in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The message of Christ is risen! gets distorted. Some think it cannot be true if the pain of all the evils in the world continue. Some hear the Church adding to the pain when it says “no” to many things the world offers to make us happy, not understanding that the Church only says “no” to the things that ultimately bring the pain and death we so much want to avoid.

“Life” as we know it in this world is not forever; the eternal Life of God that comes to us in the Resurrection of our Lord comes to us in this world, but it is the door and the bridge that takes us so much further.

Yet “this world” is always so close to us. How can we live in the reality of Paul’s words to the Colossians?! You were raised with Christ…. think of what is above, not of what is on earth.

Imagine a colony of grubs living on the bottom of a swamp. Every once in a while, one of these grubs is inclined to climb a leaf stem to the surface. Then he disappears above the surface and never returns. All the grubs wonder why this is so and what it must be like up there, so they counsel among themselves and agree that the next one who goes up will come back and tell the others. Not long after that, one of the grubs feels the urge and climbs that leaf stem and goes out above the surface onto a lily pad. And there in the warmth of the sun, he falls asleep. While he sleeps, the carapace of the tiny creature breaks open, and out of the inside of the grub comes a magnificent dragonfly with beautiful, wide, rainbow-hued, iridescent wings. And he spreads those wings and flies, soaring out over those waters. But then he remembers the commitment he has made to those behind, yet now he knows he cannot return. They would not recognize him in the first place, and beyond that, he could not live again in such a place. But one thought is his that takes away all the distress: they, too, shall climb the stem, and they, too, shall know the glory (Bruce Thielemann, Christus Imperator).


Christ is risen! Jesus has done what no grub could ever doHis Life has broken into our world, but it is so much more. Through Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, God gives us Resurrection Life. Live today in his Life, and believe––for yourself––in the glory that is to follow. Christ is risen!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Who Is Jesus?

Friday: March 23, 2018 –– 5th Week in Lent
John 10:31–42
Who Is Jesus?

Why doesn’t God answer our questions more clearly? Something bad happens and we ask God, “Why?” We face a hard decision and ask God, “What shall I do?” We’re given a difficult task and ask God, “How am I to do this?” Too often we do not get the plain answer we hoped for.

The Jews asked Jesus questions many times. They wanted straight answers and signs. Jesus gave answers and performed incredible signs, but not according to their expectations. So they could not “hear” him nor accept anything he did.

We want to identify with Jesus (and that’s good), but we might reflect on how we can be like the Jews who rejected Jesus in at least one way: How often do we not hear how God answers our questions because his answers are not what we expect?

God does not often answer our questions according to our expectations––Jesus didn’t, and Jesus said repeatedly that he and the Father are one; that he came to show us the Father. Jesus could have answered their questions in an overwhelming way (just as God could answer our questions in a way leaves no doubt). Why didn’t Jesus make himself clearly known?

God wants our love, and love does not overwhelm so that it becomes a power play. God wants and invites us to ask, but he also wants us to seek––not merely “answers” but what is good and beautiful and true so that we find him.

Those who were open to hearing and seeing Jesus as he really was began to believe in him. As John put it in another part of his Gospel: to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God (Jn 1:12).

Even today unbelief does not accept that Jesus is God. Some say he was a great prophet or a wonderful moral teacher or perhaps the best man who every lived––but not God. Some sects that call themselves “Christian” do not accept the full divinity of Jesus Christ. Yet Jesus says it so plainly, again and again, for those who are open to believe.

Whatever our questions are about God and how he answers, let’s be open and clear about one thing (and again it is John who tells us this as he begins his Gospel): No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known (Jn1:18).


Let’s keep our hearts focused on Jesus. Let’s listen to what God tells us through Jesus: If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. Believe Jesus. Trust in Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.

 
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