If you’re a fan of the writer John Grisham or the show “Law and Order” or anything in that genre, you’ll identify today’s Gospel as a trial scene. Jesus is the defendant, charged with violation of the sabbath and blasphemy. Jesus’ defense is that He is the obedient Son of God who is only doing what the Father wishes. In the Jewish system of law, the defendant, Jesus, is not permitted to testify on His own behalf, and so He cites witnesses to make His case. The first witness is John the Baptist, who declared he was preparing for the Lord’s coming and that Jesus was the “Lamb of God,” “the Son of God,” anointed with the Holy Spirit.
The second witness is the works the Father gave Jesus. Jesus points out that this testimony is greater than John’s. As an example, the healing of the man born blind and other miracles are the work of the Father done by Jesus, who sent Him. Jesus is the Son of God, who, with His divine power, obediently does the work of the Father.
The third witness is the direct testimony of the Father, whose Word Jesus speaks and whose works He does. And the last witness is the scriptures. Jesus’ opponents who are prosecuting Him study scripture to find the way to eternal life. And they object to Jesus based on their reading of Scripture vs. Jesus’ teaching and actions. Jesus seeks to show them that the Old Testament testifies that He is the fulfillment of God’s promises to save us.
Here’s the catch—Scripture, from that moment forward, comes into focus only through faith in Jesus and the action of the Holy Spirit within our minds and hearts. And that brings us to the crux of the problem with Jesus’ critics of His time and, even at times, with us. Jesus’ opponents (who don’t believe in Him) prefer their own interpretation of Scripture to the living Son of God, the personal encounter with the Word.
Jesus’ accusers want eternal life but struggle to accept Jesus’ testimony to His identity and authority. My brothers and sisters, God speaks to us through His Word in the Scriptures. But to receive this source of life, we need to have certain dispositions or attitudes.
The first is faith, where we receive this gift of believing through God’s grace and the actions of God in our lives and allow it to illumine our minds.
The second is humility; humility means knowing that God is the loving Creator and our redeemer.
The third is receptivity. In humility and faith, we open our hearts and minds to the Holy Spirit’s work within us so that we might learn from Him.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus wants His Word to remain in us today and every day. We allow this to happen when we humbly receive His teaching, believing that He is our Savior and guide to the Father and eternal life in Heaven.
May God bless you and your families on this holy day as week seek to remain Jesus’ Word!
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About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!