Acts 4:32-37; Psalm 93; John 3:7b-15
In the Gospel today, Jesus concludes his discussion with Nicodemus by saying: Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? From this statement, we see the testimony of Jesus is based on what he knows and what he has seen. The problem is Jesus sees things differently. However, since Jesus says he speaks of worldly things, what he says is based on what is tangible, what can be seen and is based on reason.
Faith has to be based on reason, but faith does NOT end with reason. Reason is the data used so we can come to a natural conclusion. Once we come to a natural conclusion, the Spirit comes and leads us to a supernatural conclusion, one that is revealed by God. This means that we need to learn about our faith, specifically, about Jesus. The argument that the Holy Spirit will reveal to us what he wants to reveal even if we do not take the effort to prepare for it is unrealistic. God created everything out of nothing only once: during creation. After that, he chooses to create from something. If we do not offer anything to God, then there is nothing he can do.
But what should we learn about our faith? Since our faith is based on Jesus, we need to learn about Jesus. Jesus concludes in today’s Gospel And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. Our goal is to have eternal life with the Father. This is possible when we believe in Jesus. This belief in Jesus is based on our experience of him. We experience Jesus in Scripture and the Sacraments. St Jerome said Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of God. We need to study Scripture if we want to know more about Jesus. We need to study Scripture within the teaching of the Catholic Church. If we interpret Scripture based on our own imagination or on whoever teaches it, how can we be sure that our interpretation is according to the mind of Jesus? Only the Catholic Church has kept the teaching of Jesus handed to the Apostles since the start of the Church. No other community can claim that. Therefore, to ensure the right interpretation of Scripture, we need to interpret it according to the teaching of the Apostles which has been guarded by the Catholic Church.
One of the tests we can use to see if our interpretation of Scripture is right, is what Jesus said the Son of Man be lifted up. If the interpretation lifts up Jesus, if it glorifies and presents only Jesus, not the preacher, not the theologian, not any other ideas, then it is possible that the interpretation is according to the mind of Christ. But if an interpretation leads to arrogance and lifts up someone else, then it is not according to the mind of Christ.
We see this in the First Reading which says with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. We learn about Jesus, about his death and resurrection. If a teaching cannot be drawn back to the death and resurrection of Jesus, then we should not believe it. A teaching should lead us to acclaim what the Psalm today says: the Lord is king, he is robed in majesty, the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength. We should learn about the power of God, about the majesty of God and about his love and mercy. This should lead us to turn to God, and no one else, not even our own strength, because we are not our saviors. We cannot save ourselves, not with our good works. Only Jesus can save us and it is his power, his glory and his strength that saves us.
Lord Jesus, I want to know more about you. Correct me of my wrong ideas of you. Teach me to lift you up, as I learn about you so I may have eternal life. Let me know the power, the glory and the strength of your name, so I may learn to trust you.