March 24, 2015

Gospel JN 8:21-30
Jesus said to the Pharisees:
“I am going away and you will look for me,
but you will die in your sin.
Where I am going you cannot come.”
So the Jews said,
“He is not going to kill himself, is he,
because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?”
He said to them, “You belong to what is below,
I belong to what is above.
You belong to this world,
but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.
For if you do not believe that I AM,
you will die in your sins.”
So they said to him, “Who are you?”
Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning.
I have much to say about you in condemnation.
But the one who sent me is true,
and what I heard from him I tell the world.”
They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father.
So Jesus said to them,
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will realize that I AM,
and that I do nothing on my own,
but I say only what the Father taught me.
The one who sent me is with me.
He has not left me alone,
because I always do what is pleasing to him.”
Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.
In this Gospel passage, Jesus is saying, in essence, I have offered you the gift of myself and eternal life, but through your disbelief, you have refused the gift. He goes on to tell the Pharisees, that he will soon leave them; they cannot come with him because they prefer the ways of the world.
They mock him by suggesting he is going to kill himself, one of the gravest sins of Mosaic law.
They ask Jesus, “Who are you?”
In answer to their question, Jesus defines himself by replying, “I AM.”
This is the same term God used in Exodus (3:13-14) when Moses asked God his name. God replied, “I AM who I AM.”
In other words, Jesus is telling the Pharisees, I am one and the same as God the Father.
Jesus goes on to tell them that all he does and says is at the direction of his Father who sent him, who never leaves him alone.
This Gospel of John concludes by saying that because Jesus spoke in this manner, “many came to believe in him.”
It’s inspiring to know that Jesus’ words resulted in people believing in him at the time of the actual events.
However, most of us came to believe in Jesus long before we ever heard this Gospel passage or perhaps even before we were exposed to the Bible at all.
So, reading this Gospel makes me wonder: When did I first begin to believe in Jesus and why?
Upon reflection, it was not one thing that brought me to believe; it was a combination of many factors.
Witnessing my mother praying her rosary and listening over many years to her saying, “God will get us through this.”
The smell of the church on Sunday morning and watching the old people silently praying the stations of the cross before mass began.
The awe I felt at eight years old anticipating receiving the Eucharist for the first time.
At ten years old, secretly praying to Jesus that my mother and father would get back together again so we could be one big happy family.
At eighteen, getting the word that Pap died, while in the Navy in Japan, and sitting alone in the Chapel, crying to Jesus.
Holding my first born, my daughter Maureen, and being totally in reverence of the miracle of life.
Belief in Jesus may be a “one time event” for some but for me it has been woven into the fabric of my life by a thousand experiences both big and small.
How did you first come to believe in our Lord?

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Luke 9:20