Can You Hear His Voice?
Gospel Reflection 2/23/23
"Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent." (Jn 5:37-38)
Around 2016 or a little before, I was returning to my Catholic faith. After spending many years away and enduring some challenging life experiences, I was starting to understand the most important purpose for my life, above everything else, was Jesus. Surprisingly in 2019, I was blessed to have gotten the opportunity to visit Israel. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life and increased my faith in a way that I cannot fully explain. I went to Israel with a faithful group of Catholics from the Church I attended in Los Angeles. We were fortunate to be accompanied by a Palestinian Catholic guide who had lived in the region since birth. Visiting the Church of the Nativity, The Holy Sepulchre, and journeying down Via Dolorosa Street (the path Jesus walked to his crucifixion) were some life-changing moments that brought me into a deeper and more pronounced relationship with Christ. Simply put, my trip to Israel helped me to hear, a little more clearly, the voice of Jesus.
Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)
A few other things opened my eyes in Israel. First, I was unaware that only around one percent of the population in Israel is Christian. Like many people on the trip, we were naive about this, and I wondered how the country that Jesus was from could reject Him. During the trip, we visited the Western Wall (the place known as the Temple Mount, where Abraham showed his devotion to God.) While at the Western Wall, I was approached by a Hasidic Jew who asked me to help him and his community with money for the Messiah's return. I commented, "yes, Jesus will be returning," with a smile, but the Jewish man laughed and said, "no, Jesus is not the Messiah." Of course, I wanted to defend Christ in the same manner that Peter wanted to protect Christ in the Garden, but for some reason, the Jewish man's comments did not upset me that day. I felt a love for this "religious" man as he was not carrying the complete truth, which Christians know in Jesus. As we read in today's Gospel, Jesus says, "You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life." (Jn 5:39-40)
Many of us encounter those who reject the complete truth of Christ. This is becoming especially true in our American society, which seeks to embrace sin and push God further away. Today, let's pray and even try to communicate humbly with those who reject Jesus. We hope everyone will be led as we are led to a life in Christ, who is the true and only Savior.
Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)