22 March 2013

Words & Deeds Reveal the Truth

5th Week of Lent (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Our Lady of the Rosary

Confronted by a lynch mob and its demand that he defend his claim to be the Son of God, Jesus calmly lays out the options for those with stones in hand: “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works. . .” Whether or not you believe me when I say that I am doing the work of my Father, believe in the works themselves, “so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Jesus recognizes here that the mob doubts his claim to be “from the Father,” so simply reasserting his claim isn't going to convince them. They've witnessed his works, or heard first hand accounts of those works, so he challenges them to accept the truth of what he has done as a first step toward coming into the larger truth of who he is. Coming to know Christ can be instantaneous or gradual; it can be a flash of recognition (cf. Paul), or a slow evolution over time. Taken together, Christ's words and deeds reveal his true identity and purpose. Can we say the same for ourselves? 

As followers of Christ, we are given a mission in the world: to spread the Good News that God freely offers His boundless mercy to all sinners through His son, Jesus Christ. Our words and deeds in the world either accomplish this mission, or they betray it. When Jesus is confronted by the lynch mob, he challenges his accusers to either believe his words or his works. It might appear that he's trying to save his own life with a desperate appeal. But what he's actually doing is trying desperately to save the eternal lives of those who threaten to kill him. Jesus knows that his hour has not yet come, so there's no real danger for him. The real danger lurks for those whose hour has come but do not yet know that he is the Son of God sent to offer them the Father's mercy for their sins. While out on mission in the world, we are constantly being challenged by one sort of mob or another. If our words and deeds do not bring them to know Christ instantly, can the memory of what we have said and done push them slowly toward Christ? Or do we give them even more reasons to believe that God holds a grudge and that His mercy has a price? If you lay claim to an inheritance from the Father through Christ, then you must—w/o hesitation or reservation—speak and act in the world as an heir to the Kingdom. We're not here to save our own lives—Christ did that for us. We're here to proclaim the Good News and to do the good works that bring sinners to eternal life. 

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  1. Great one for me; thanks.

  2. Second paragraph was very much appreciated, though I am quite far from speaking and acting "w/o hesitation or reservation."