Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
(Daniel 3:14-20.91-92.95; John 8:31-42)
The ironic lament, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” helps to understand today’s gospel. Jesus is shown defending himself against Jews “who believed in him.” Although it is not certain, the evangelist is probably reading back into the life of Jesus a debate that took place in the early Church. By “those who believed in him,” John has in mind Jewish Christians with an inadequate understanding of their faith. They do not recognize that Jesus frees people from the burden of the Law.
St. Paul provides a complete explanation of this idea in his Letter to the Romans. He writes that only by faith in Christ as God’s only true messenger can one live righteously. Trying to observe the parts of the Law which describe a righteous life by oneself is impossible. It would be like digging a canal with a teaspoon. Faith in Jesus implies loving God and neighbors with more than words.
Many today have a tenuous hold on faith. Like those who are said to believe in Jesus in the gospel, they do not understand what faith implies. This kind of Christian largely follows secular norms with little attention to worship and doctrine. We need to remind them of what faith in Jesus entails. Inviting them to Mass or our small, faith-based communities may provide them some insight into authentic Christianity. Faith calls us not to abandon such people but to endeavor to show them the light of Christ.