Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Lectionary: 280

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

It’s not hard to sympathize with the bewilderment of the Jews in Saint John’s Gospel. Why doesn’t “Christ” tell us more plainly what he is about and what he wants of us?

Faith, by its very nature, eludes explanation. We might call it the "key" to human existence but the metaphor fails because neither faith nor the human can be imagined as clearly as a key and a lock. These hard, familiar objects don't look like the invisible mysteries of faith and the human being. 

Explanations and definitions of faith inevitably fail because they have no weight or substance; they’re just words. We know faith when we see it in others; it gleams with courage and integrity. But we're rarely granted that vision within our own souls. I can practice faith and hope that I am truly practicing faith, but I have no proof of that. Neither God nor my pastor will give me that golden ticket which I can flaunt in the face of my own doubts or those skeptics around me. 

If faith is hard to imagine, describing human nature is like hiking through a swamp. We might start with the assumption that a human being is an individual but even a quick scan of the naked creature reveals certain external organs that reveal intimate and vital dependence on others, most obviously the belly button. If the navel no longer functions, the breasts and genitals may still link us to others. 

Is there such a thing as an individual and how divided is this being from others of the same nature? 

Cain thought he had a clever response when he asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" but, yes, he was responsible for the younger brother, born of the same womb; even if Abel was a free man capable of making his own decisions. We are responsible for one another and, yes, we are individually free creatures with the right to refuse anyone who would take responsibility of someone else. 

When Jesus explains what he is about his hearers either delight in his words or walk away deeply confused. He is the Christ; there can be no doubt. But in recognizing him as my Lord and my God, although I have surrendered my life and will, I am still a free agent. 

The Son of God, sent to serve and not to be served, would have it no other way. Nor would we. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.