Once Believed but No More

Greetings on this the Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings: Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; PS Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56; Jn 8:31-42

Note: Yesterday with the 5th graders was great. It is good to see children getting a good education both secular and religious at the same time and in the same place. A very happy class to have a retreat day and I was honored to talk with them about Holy Eucharist.

Today’s gospel is plain talk. If you agree with me that every word Jesus uttered and every movement/emotion was ordered toward the salvation of others than this dialog takes on a much higher significance than at first.

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31-32).

The word believed in this sentence is meant to describe those who once believed but no longer believed. This is a shattering concept to some my evangelical brothers but one that must be encountered. They believed, then they didn’t.

Editors are tempted to say this is an editorial suture alone. A tool to continue the dialog. Not good enough explanation, sorry.

Reencountering sacred Scripture with this in mind it is easy to see that these followers were content to be entertained by John the Baptist and mesmerized by the miracle producing Jesus up until a point.

What Changed?

Keeping the textual order of events it is clearly a result of the Bread of Life Discourse John 6. The idea that Jesus is bread to be eaten was too much for them.

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it? As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied them.” (Jn 6:60, 66)

Descendants of Abraham

Line of reasoning followed.

We are descendants of Abraham. In our current time, the answer might be “We are baptized”. For pseudo-Christians you would substitute the modern version of the same denials. Why?

Allow the text to inform.

If I had a table format here it would help.

Jesus list the facts.
1s Remain with my word: know truth and freedom.
2s You commit sin and enslaved by it.
3s Let the Son of the Father free you.
4s You are trying to kill me.
5s My word has no room in you.
6s You are doing the work of your father (devil).
7s You do not love.

Former Believers list their retort.
1r We were never enslaved.
2r no response.
3r Our Father is Abraham.
4r no response.
5r no response.
6r We are not born of fornication (no original sin nor actual sin).
7r no response.

Faith Grace Response

The dialog is one of faith, grace and human response.

I don’t want to get into the false argument of Faith and Works. Your ears may be dead to that dialog.

I don’t want to describe the false religion of Law over Love. Your ears may be dead to that dialog.

But response is critical. They once believed Jesus. They once followed Jesus.

Then they stopped. Why did YOU stop believing Jesus?

I say, don’t stop believing Jesus even when what he asks seems impossible or even illogical. With God all things are possible.

We are about to celebrate the Paschal Mystery.
Jesus died and Resurrected.

Live and be alive in Jesus.

Peace be with you,
Deacon Gerry

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