Today’s Gospel reading and the verses that precede it tell us of two ways that the people of Jesus’ time used to consider whether or not Jesus was the Messiah. First there were the people who believed in Him because of the miracles that He performed, and then there were others who believed because of the way he spoke at the temple. They asked one another, "Is He the Messiah? Is He the prophet?" And they struggled for proof one way or the other. Even with all that they heard and all that they saw, they remained skeptical, and few seemed to have faith that indeed Jesus was the anticipated Messiah.
Jesus renounces a plea to "go public" as we would put it today. He does not seem at all concerned about whether or not he has the popular vote. In fact, even when Jesus does go to the temple for the Feast of the Tabernacles, he does so in secret. But still all around him, the discussion continues and "the Jews look for Him."
In the meantime, the chief priests and Pharisees disparage the possibility that Jesus is the Messiah by using the argument that the authorities and Pharisees do not believe that Jesus is The Christ, therefore there is no point in anyone else even considering that Jesus might be the Messiah.
What is it that leads us to belief in Christ? Is it the Words of Scripture? Is it miracles we witness? We believe that Faith is a gift from God. We need only be open to the gift. God will always give himself to us if we are open. We also know that God is love and that love becomes manifest through humanity. God is revealed in love and we see God in the love and good works of the Saints, or in the good people that we meet in our daily lives.
Let’s not forget during these last weeks of Lent, that we, too, are called to be signs of God’s love. As Christians, it is up to us to be open to the signs of faith and love in our lives and as Christians, it is up to us to find the ways that we can serve as signs of faith and love to others.
Mary Lou Butler is a former staff member and is now a member of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center Board, Sierra Madre, California.