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The Works of Jesus

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Sometimes the language of St. John's Gospel can seem rather foreign to our ears. The fourth Gospel is poetic at times. At other times the arguments that go on between Jesus and the Jewish authorities seem technical and beyond our comprehension. When the people ask Jesus to speak plainly, to tell them in no uncertain terms whether he is the Messiah, we almost want to join in the chorus. "Yes, please!"

However, if we pay close attention to Jesus' answer in today's Gospel reading, we may find that Jesus is not simply a man of words. He seems to embody that age-old wisdom that says that actions speak louder than words. This is exactly what he means when he states: I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. (John 10:25b-26)

It is Jesus' contention that the question of his identity is answered by the works that he does. This is the same answer that he gave to the disciples of John the Baptist when they came to ask him if he was the one whom they were looking for. He simply told them to return to John and tell them what they had seen, tell him what Jesus was doing for the poor, the blind, the lame, and the deaf.

In so doing Jesus is using the Hebrew Scriptures themselves to back up his claim to be the Messiah. The great prophet Isaiah had written what they should look for in the person of the Messiah. However, because they were looking for a Messiah who would come with power to raise Israel to its status as a "super power," they had missed the signs that would identify him. Once again, we find the expectations of the questioners are getting in the way of their ability to identify Jesus.

The first reading for today's liturgy relates how Jesus' followers came to be known as "Christians." The word "Christ" means "Messiah; thus, Christians are those who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. We who believe have the responsibility of carrying on the mission of the Messiah. The world has expectations of us. If we are who we say we are, we need to carry on the signs of God's reign in our midst.

 

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