You may have noticed that throughout this week’s Gospel passages from John there has been strong confrontation and criticism from the religious and political leaders towards Jesus’ compassionate acts of healing in public and on the sacred Sabbath. On two occasions, including today, people of prominence and power recognize that “that there has never been anyone who has spoken like him.” (John 7:46) Yes, even to this day, piety, virtue and compassion (all expressed through non-violent engagement with power) are labeled as weak and ineffective. Yet in Jesus the qualities in a genuinely virtuous person fascinates, invites, attracts and challenges.
Joseph G. Donders comments in With Hearts on Fire, that Jesus “brought all his human powers and capacities to fulfillment as the Spirit prompted him. He was fully alive, an admired and loved human being because he was loving, just, courageous and unpretentious. His spiritual vibrations were immediately felt by all. He changed everyone at the first contact; some loved him intensely, others hated him fiercely.” (p. 80) Our prayer time can simply be placing ourselves into His presence, as did so many whom we read about in the Gospels. We will resonate with him.
An incident comes to mind when Pope John Paul II visited the U.S. and, the then vice-president Walter Mondale commented as the Pope was leaving the country. “You have unleashed the best and most generous sentiments within us and given us courage to go forward.” Without counting the cost, nor looking for results, our daily activities will channel in some way, shape or form the healing power of Jesus within and around us.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president emeritus of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.