March 17, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from John 10:19-21.
Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, “He is possessed and out of his mind; why listen to him?” Others said, “These are not the words of one possessed; surely a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?”
Jesus had just told them that he had the power to lay down his own life and take it up again. I like the way Barclay approaches this verse. “The people who listened to Jesus on this occasion were confronted with a dilemma which is for ever confronting men. Either Jesus was a megalomaniac madman, or he was the Son of God. There is no escape from that choice. If a man speaks about God and about himself in the way in which Jesus spoke, either he is completely deluded, or else he is profoundly right. The claims which Jesus made signify either insanity or divinity. How can we assure ourselves that they were indeed justified and not the world’s greatest delusion?”
There is something in me that is guarded, cautious about being duped, about being taken. I don’t want to be made a fool. So, it’s easier to dismiss someone or some claim than to remain open-minded and continue to gather information until I can arrive at my own thoughtful conclusion. Sometimes I’m like those Jews who derided Jesus without ever really considering that he might indeed be God’s anointed one and sometimes I’m like the others who carefully weigh the evidence in an effort to arrive at the truth.
All my adult life I seem to alternate between these two attitudes toward Christianity — skepticism and acceptance. It must look like a zig zag to others, maybe even insincere or dishonest or just not being able to make up my mind. It’s part of my internal processing, continually exploring and testing, getting to a point of certainly about this thing or that. For me, acknowledgment and acceptance of Jesus has not been a simple choice, a black and white proposition, an either/or decision. I live in the gray zone; some would accuse me of moral relativism. I can’t deny it.
For me, though, when I recite a prayer or the creed at Mass or when I pray or when I write or speak about my faith, it’s important that I’m honest with God. I don’t want to give lip service to Him. He asks more of me than that and, besides, He knows my heart and my mind. Honesty is for my benefit, not His. O that I could live my life in the same way, with the same adherence to honesty instead of just saying what I think others may want to hear or of avoiding conflict or not being liked and accepted. All I needed to know for living my life, not just my faith and my relationship to Jesus, is in the gospels. I wish I had known that a long time ago!