Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent
Witnesses to Jesus
The famous French existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) became an atheist at the age of 11. Sartre was obviously, and many others like him, became atheist not for philosophical reasons but for psychological or moral reasons. His experiences with people especially Christians had convinced him that God does not exist.
This is reflected in today’s gospel passage. Here we see Jesus arguing with His enemies. And He shows them their bad faith. He tells them that if they judge Him fairly, objectively and without any prejudice, they would have every reason to accept His words that He is the one being sent by God; about His Messianic claim and equality with God. It is because there are four kinds of testimonies that validate and accredit His words and the common law of judgment (Deut 17:6) requires only two or three testimonies. These four testimonies are: 1) His “works” (v. 36) or the whole course of His life and ministry like: He reveals God and His will to us, sets up His kingdom among us, reforms the world, destroys Satan’s kingdom, restores fallen people to their primitive purity and felicity, sheds aboard in one’s hearts the love of God and of one another and the miracles He performed; 2) the testimony of John the Baptist (v. 33, John 1:19) in pointing Him out as the Savior; 3) the words (v. 39) of the Bible referring to Him; and above all, 4) God the Father (v. 32, 37) whom they could not see. But His enemies are taken up by their prejudices to listen to these four testimonies. They are not really interested in the objective truth. They did not even believe what Moses had written and this corrupts even a proper understanding of Moses and the Scriptures. They are more interested, as Jesus says, “in accepting praise from one another.” Their pride made them deaf to God’s voice. And God reveals Himself to the lowly, to those who trust not in themselves but in God. Do we listen to God’s word with faith and trust?
In our case as Christians, we are called to be witnesses to our belief in Christ. We become witnesses because of the Sacrament of Confirmation that we received.
The best way of witnessing to Jesus is: first is through a consistent life. If we truly live as children of God, then we will practice the two great commandments of love and charity and we will be filled with joy. Charity and joy are two of the most convincing arguments in favor of our faith in Him.
Second is believes in His Word in the Bible. The Father gives witness to Jesus through the Scriptures. For me, I do believe in everything God tells me in the Bible because it is God who tells me. I take Him for His word because He is God and God cannot lie. God gives us reasons to believe in Him found in the prophecies of Scriptures. The entire Old Testament tells us that God prepares His people for the coming of His Son, Jesus. He leaves indications about: the place of His birth, where He would grow up, what His public ministry is going to be like and how He is going to die. And so therefore, Christ asks each one of us today: “How do we approach God’s word in the Bible? What is our attitude as we read God’s word?” Are our reading is for mere erudition? Or do we seek the words of eternal life?
At the end, Bishop Clemens of India, as shared to us by Fr. Seve during our Lenten recollection last February 28-29, 2008 in Tagaytay City, told his priests: “Love for Jesus (the vertical dimension of Christian life) and live for Him (horizontal dimension).” Let us live love too in order for us to be true witnesses of Christ. Let us pray: “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.”