Jesus affirms who he is and whose he is in today’s Gospel of John. Despite those who do not believe that he is the Messiah, Jesus again makes his point very clear: “I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me” (Jn 7:28-29). Jesus is the Son of God made man and he belongs to the One who sent him, God the Father.
As Jesus was challenged in his time, he continues to be challenged today. That level of challenge has increased even to the degree that his human existence is even dismissed in some circles as a mere legend. Even as a historical figure, some speculate that Jesus did not walk the roads of Galilee and Judea as recorded in today’s Gospel. This need not be a reason for alarm. Though it is a reason to know our Tradition, the deposit of faith that has been preserved and passed on from Jesus to his Apostles and disciples, and to those early Church Fathers and Mothers named and unnamed, and passed on up to us to this day in an unbroken apostolic succession. It is important to read the Bible, immerse ourselves in the sacred texts, and allow Jesus to speak to us again and again.
It is important to know what we believe, who we believe in, and whose we belong to. In this way when we are challenged by others, we do not need to stoop into a defensive crouch, but instead listen to the person’s points, their critiques, and ask questions of what they believe and why they believe what they believe. We can share our position while at the same time being open to understanding where our questioners are coming from. We can then respond with an open mind and heart of surrender to allow the Holy Spirit to be present through us.
When we are anxious, defensive, seeking to be right, or fearing to be wrong, we limit what Jesus can do through us. God is not about numbers and quotas, he is about building relationships, one person at a time. It is more important to build relationships than to win arguments. We can learn much from St. Bernadette of Soubirous who when challenged time and again regarding the validity of her experiences and encounters with Mary responded, “My job is to inform, not convince.”
Social media platforms can be good platforms to exchange ideas as well as horrific experiences of the worst of our humanity. It is important that we remain respectful face to face and remember that screen to screen there is another human being on the other end. We are on a journey of faith and sharing what we have received in a spirit of charity and dialogue with those we interact with is a good practice. All of us seek the True, the Good, and the Beautiful and especially during times of uncertainty and instability, it is important to respect and love those who have differing perspectives outside of and even within the Church, and be open to the reality that we can learn from each other and allow God to guide each of us through our common challenges as we continue to journey together.
Photo: Nothing like a good discussion, although my doctors are continuing to urge me to do so by wearing a mask!