Today’s Gospel from St. John is part of Jesus’ long discourses during the Last Supper. At the beginning of the discourses (which go on for four chapters), Jesus asks, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” And in the latter part of the discourse that we hear today, the disciples assert that now that Jesus has spoken plainly to them they now believe.
And Jesus replies, “Do you believe now?” When I hear those words, I hear in Jesus’ voice frustration, urgency and challenge. What I hear is: You’ve walked with me for three years. You’ve listened to my teachings. You’ve watched me heal and raise from the dead. You’ve watched me feed the multitudes with a few loaves of bread, calm the seas, walk on water. You’ve experienced my love.
Do you believe now? Jesus asks, knowing one will betray him.
Do you believe now? he asks, knowing one will deny him.
Do you believe now? you who will fall asleep in the garden when I ask you to say awake with me.
Do you believe now? you, all of whom save John, will abandon me as I hang on the cross.
Yet they say “we have come to believe.”
Jesus asks us the same question: Do you believe? After all you’ve seen and heard and all we’ve been through together, do you believe?
We are as quick as the disciples to say “I believe” or “We believe.”
The question is: does our belief mean something.
Do we say “I believe” and mean, “I’ll take the wedding feasts and the feeding of then multitudes and the healings, but not the cross”>
Do we say “I believe” and run from Jesus at the first sign of trouble?
Do we say “I believe” and live our lives in ways that look absolutely no different from those who disclaim belief?
What do you mean when you say “I believe.”
[This post contains excerpts from the reflection I will offer on the Gospel at Mass this afternoon at the Jesuit Retreat House in Osh Kosh, where I am one of the directors for a directed retreat.]
Update: Although I didn’t deliver it exactly as presented here, here is the text of my reflection at today’s Mass.