We listen in John’s gospel today (John 5, 31-47) as different witnesses take the stand to testify for Jesus as he faces his interrogators in Jerusalem. John the Baptist, “a burning and shining lamp” speaks for him. Moses speaks for him. In our first reading from Exodus, Moses pleads for his people. Jesus takes that role on himself; he pleads for his people.
The miracles and works of healing Jesus performed testify for him. Above all, his heavenly Father, who through an interior call draws to his son those unhindered by pride, speaks for him. The scriptures, long searched by the Jews as the way to eternal life, “testify on my behalf.”
Faith in Jesus still comes to us in these ways. Do we accept them? The church, like John the Baptist and Moses point Jesus Christ out to us; are we guided by its light? His works and words and miracles witness to him; do we search into them? Our heavenly Father draws us to his son; do we pray for faith and humility to accept his grace?
We’re reminded by scholars that “the Jews” in these passages of John’s Gospel are not the whole Jewish nation but those who opposed Jesus because pride and position turned them against him. We have to remember this as we read about those who oppose Jesus in the gospels. Ever since, people still oppose him.
In lent, the voice of the Father says once more: “listen to him.”
Mystics like Paul of the Cross knew that faith is a gift of God; we don’t get it by reason alone. It’s God’s gift. He recommended prayer, steady prayer, as a means to gain, nourish and strengthen faith.
“Someone who left his community once wrote to Fr. Paul and signed the letter pretentiously , Archpriest, Lawyer, Theologian. Answering his letter, Fr. Paul signed himself, N.N.N., which means Paul of the Cross, who is nothing, who knows nothing, can do nothing, desires nothing in this world but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. This was his wisdom: to see with eyes of faith his own nothingness and to allow God who works within us to be born there.” (Life of Blessed Paul of the Cross, by St. Vincent Strambi, Chapter 35)
I come to you
who have given so much to me. You know “my inmost being” and “all my thoughts from afar.” I want to listen to you
and be changed by what I hear. Amen.