If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Friday, 27 April 2018

5th Sunday of Easter Year B 2018

5th Sunday of Easter (B)                   

(Acts 9:26-31; 1st. John 3:18-24; John 15:1-8)

We heard Our Blessed Lord in today’s Gospel reading speak words that we need to continually bear in mind as we try to live out our lives as true disciples of His:

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without Me you can do nothing.

In the Christian experience of life there is no place for feelings of personal superiority at success in the ‘rat race’, or pride in coming out on top ‘of the pile’, for Christians know that what is of importance for our own and the world’s salvation is not what we do of ourselves --  without Me you can do nothing of worth -- so much as what we do in Him, and supremely, what we allow Him to do in and through us – ‘whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit’.

            As it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ (1 Corinthians 1:31)

Therefore, let us look first of all at what is meant by, involved in, the words ‘Whoever remains in Me’.

Many like to think that those words of Jesus refer to us remaining in Him by our occasionally remembering, thinking about, Him, somewhat as one might recall the memory of a friend who has passed on.  Jesus, however, has not passed on in that way, for He remains present to us.  In addition, the words ‘Whoever remains in Me’ speak of our whole being remaining in Him, not just our mind occasionally adverting to Him with perhaps a measure of approval or even reverence.  Jesus Himself made no effort to remain available, open, to our minds as did the famous authors of old still read and admired through their writings, for Personally, Jesus wrote nothing; neither was He, in His death, surrounded by zealous followers declaring their hearts’ devotion, for He was lifted up high on a cross in visible abandonment, while His closest, carefully chosen apostles were all -- except the ‘youngster’ John who was not threatened by the religious authorities -- quick to desert Him and escape to the safety of obscurity, where they found themselves afraid for the present, and unsure of the future significance of His life and work among them.

Whoever – a whole person of mind and heart, body and soul -- remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit.

It was Jesus' rising from the dead in the fullness of His glorified humanity that made the difference: for then, though gloriously embodied, so to speak, He was not only seen but also touched, He was not only heard to speak but also seen to eat.  His Risen Presence was, in that way, and still is, a true bodily presence; a gloriously different body indeed, but nevertheless, He was truly and wholly present with His Apostles in what we may call a supremely real and spiritual way, or perhaps more colloquially, a really spiritual way, and that mysteriously truthful reality is still the manner of His abiding with us today.   Jesus is not a memory to be recalled, nor a departed friend to be lamented, He is a present, living, reality among us in His fulness of being, and calling for, provoking, a response from us that, in turn, has to involve our whole being.

‘Whoever remains in Me‘, refers therefore, to one who remains, indeed abides, in this real, spiritual, Risen Jesus,  as a member of His gloriously alive Body, as one living in Jesus by the Spirit of Jesus.   The commandment of Jesus that we should love one another, is therefore, that we should love all our brethren with us in the Body of Christ, whatever their racial origins or characteristics, that together we might bring forth acceptable fruit for the Father:

This is My commandment, love one another as I love you;

that is, love one another by the very love of Jesus actually loving us and wanting, seeking in and through us, to love our brethren.

St. John in our second reading took up the command of Jesus:

His (God’s) commandment is this: we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another just as He (Jesus) commanded us.  

You will remember how Jesus at times took elements from the Law of Moses, and then confirmed them by intensifying them (cp. Matthew 5:21-22):

You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,' and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

In like manner the New Testament command of Jesus to ‘love one another’ is not the same as the Old Testament commandment (Leviticus 19:18) which declares:

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.

That was a command to love fellow Israelites; Jesus, however, as you know, extended that love to all men in His parable about the Good Samaritan:

“Which of these -- Levite, Priest, or Samaritan -- do you think was neighbour to him who fell among the thieves?"  He said, "He who showed mercy on him."  Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise." (Luke 10:36-37)

Moreover, the original Old Testament ‘neighbour commandment’ required loving the other ‘as yourself’, and that, Jesus took up once again at the Last Supper:

As the Father loves Me, so I also love you; remain in My love.  If you keep My commandments you will remain in My love; this I command you: love one another. (Jn. 15:9, 10, 17)

Jesus’ ‘neighbour-commandment’ therefore, does not relate merely to fellow Israelites, it is a commandment for the Body of Christ, for the whole Church -- the sacrament of restored humanity responding to God -- for all members of Jesus’ mystical Body loving one another as I (Jesus) love you, that is, as Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, is loving each and every one of us at this very moment.

Thereby, we can gather some idea of just how much Mother Church should mean for us who aspire to become true disciples of Jesus: she is the only authentic milieu, the truly necessary atmosphere, for the full, vital and vivifying, operation of every member making up and fulfilling the Mystical Body of Christ; and that is why she, Mother Church is to be specially blessed, protected, and cherished by our observance of Jesus’ special commandment:

            Love one another as I have loved, and am now loving, you.  

Let us now notice how this membership of, this living in and by Mother Church, meant everything to Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles:

When Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him and did not believe that he was a disciple.  But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So, he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out.  And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Saul became -- in the Church -- Paul, a preacher whose independent character was unmistakably manifested at times in confrontations with Barnabas and Mark (Acts 15:37-39), and his famous show-down with Peter at Antioch (Galatians 2:12).  Nevertheless, independent though he was by nature, on becoming, in the Church, Doctor of the Gentiles, he was concerned and firmly determined to regulate his proclamation of Jesus in accordance with that of the original Apostles, above all Peter:

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and I remained with him fifteen days.   But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:18-19)

After fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. I went up by revelation, and I communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. (Galatians 2:1-2)

People of God, we too are called to love Mother Church much more than ourselves, and to love one another in Mother Church.  However, in Mother Church let us too, with St. Paul, look up to One alone, Who is the vinedresser and Father; let us look at One only, Jesus the Lord, the True Vine Who established her, and Whose word prunes and purifies us in her; let us trust and hope in the One Holy Spirit Who is Jesus’ Gift to His Church and then her gift to us:

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)

And thus, in that full, faithful, and devout joy, may we all attain our own fulfilment in Jesus:

            By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples!

Friday, 20 April 2018

4th Sunday of Easter Year B 2018

4th. Sunday Easter (B)
(Acts of the Apostles 4:8-12; 1st. John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18)

I am the good shepherd, and I know Mine and Mine know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father

Dear People of God, it would seem that the reason why so many in our society and in the world today reject Jesus and His Church is because they have, beforehand, in the depths of their hearts, already rejected the Father’s inviting voice, His guiding spiritual hand.

            No one can come to Me unless it is granted him by My Father.

This refusal to be initially guided by the Father, then to be taught -- and ultimately as true sons and daughters of His in Jesus -- ruled by Him, is not always or necessarily a religious confrontation at all.  The Father Who created all men can relate to each and every one of us in all the details of our inner life and public experience:  one does not need to have heard of Jesus, one does not need to have any religious convictions, to be approached and addressed by the Father.  The Father wants and seeks to guide all humankind in the depths of their being, indeed, that is the startling development in acceptable worship of God of which Jesus spoke when He said to the Samaritan woman that His Father was Spirit and wanted to be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth; that, indeed, is the spiritual revolution Jesus was sent to bring about on earth.

We often hear of God’s guiding us with respect to our human conscience, and that is absolutely correct so long as we do not imagine that He only speaks to us explicitly about right and wrong, about what is good and bad.  Jesus said once ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’, and so the Father speaks by His Spirit -- to our conscience, most importantly about right and wrong ways open to us at times; but also, and much more frequently, He addresses our spiritual awareness -- about truth, love, and fidelity, about the difference between pleasure and joy, indeed, about life itself … what is its meaning, its purpose, its end?   He may also speak to us about what is beautiful: what ideals do we have, should we seek; what is left in life if general honesty is mocked or personal integrity ignored?  He may speak to us about our neighbour: what sort of respect should we show him or her?  Can we ignore him or use him, indeed can we harm him, to attain our own ends?   Parents, teachers, boys, girls, how are they to relate with each other?

There are countless ways in which the Father seeks, by His most Holy Spirit, to speak with each and every person made in His image – heart to heart as it were -- before ever directly mentioning religion or Jesus; and our responses to all these promptings and ‘soundings’ gradually build up in us a more or less habitual attitude of reacting and responding to that secret inner voice belonging to One Who is Other than us and way above us, so to speak, and yet so intimately -- Spirit to spirit -- close with us.  We can, on the one hand, gradually accept that inner dialogue as an important and, indeed, essential ‘part’ of us, or else we can see it as an increasingly unwelcome intrusion into our private persuasion to follow up nothing other than our own willed thoughts, pursue none but our own desires and achieve above all our secret purposes.

There is another contributing cause for modern society’s turn from Christian faith and indeed from all religious belief, and it becomes clear if we consider again those words of Jesus:

I am the good shepherd, and I know Mine and Mine know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.

Too often Catholics today witness not to the God with Whom they should be intimately one in personal love and commitment, but instead to the Church of which they think of themselves exclusively as members, relating to her as an impersonal and powerful organization with definite practices calling for expected responses, with rules and regulations which seem to require only obedience; thus presenting her to others as a Church which proclaims herself rather than Jesus, a  Church which calls on us to obey her commands, practice her morality, before ever inviting us and encouraging us to know and love Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, Who alone can and Who alone wills, no matter what the cost to Himself, to lead us to God the Father -- His Father Who wants to be our Father -- the God Who is sublimely Personal, and Who seeks our personal response to His great goodness, wisdom, and love, made manifest and humanly recognizable in Jesus, His only-begotten and incarnate Son, become One of us for us.

Now, the only reasons for embracing Christianity as a Catholic should be a desire for eternal life and heavenly fulfilment, and a heart-felt love for the wondrous goodness of God made manifest in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and in the great beauty and truth of the Christian appreciation of and Catholic response to our awareness and experience of life in the natural creation we find all around us, and in the human society we seek to create for ourselves. 

Today however, in our decadent Western society, too few seek to appreciate and understand the Christian Scriptures and Catholic teaching in order to truly love God first and foremost in their lives, with the result that the words and example of Jesus are largely ignored:

            The Father knows Me and I know the Father.

The Father knows and loves each of us through and through, and He uses His infinite yet subtle power to influence and guide us in our ideas, our appreciations, our inclinations and our fears, because each of us is His creation and He wills to lead each of us to the fullness of the possibilities with which He has endowed us.  It is in constant dialogue and communion with Him as disciples of Jesus that all of us can most effectively shape our destinies: and those who refuse to respond to the Father’s influence in the depths of their human hearts for whatever reason can know nothing about Jesus.  Whether or not they heard about Jesus directly is not ultimately decisive: a pagan in the remotest jungle is as capable of rejecting the Father’s call, as was an educated and religious Jew when Jesus walked in Palestine, just as is a modern self-satisfied sceptic.

Of course, this individual ability and responsibility before God is both feared and hated by the world around us.  Always some circumstance, some unavoidable circumstance, some reason, some incontrovertible reason, some influence, some irresistible influence, is said to prevent individuals from choosing what is good, to excuse them from doing what is bad.  Why God Himself, it is claimed, surely cannot blame individuals for even the most outrageous, horrific, or depraved actions, and most certainly will not punish them!!

And yet Jesus’ words are ultimate truth:

            No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him.

It is in that human, that ideally human, dialogue with the Father -- not always initially or necessarily recognized as Father – speaking by His Spirit to us in the depths of our hearts, that we, each and every one of us, shape and ultimately determine our earthly life and eternal destiny:

Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.     (Matthew 12:32)

And that is why, People of God, for us who are Christians, and above all for us who are Catholics, it is absolutely essential that we should attend, indeed give supreme attention, to our personal dialogue with the Father in our minds and hearts in order that we may give authentic witness to Him.  We would achieve nothing by faultless observance of the rules of Mother Church, the practice of all abstract moral virtues, dutiful reception of the Sacraments, unfailing presence at Mass, without communion with Jesus our Lord, and in Him with the Father, in the secret depths of our being, by His most Holy Spirit.

Jesus was totally amazed at His Jewish opponents speaking about the God they thought they believed in and He expressed His amazement saying:

It is My Father who glorifies Me, of Whom you say, ‘He is our God.’  You do not know Him, but I know Him. And if I should say that I do not know Him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know Him and I keep His word.   (John 8:54-55)

What must He think of too many modern Catholics privileged to call God their Father and who yet live their lives as if He had never spoken to them in their hearts??

Dear People of God, let us treasure Jesus and the Holy Spirit Who have been sent us, given us, by the Father to lead us to that fullness expressed in Mother Church’s words contained, and so easily passed over, in the third canon of Mass:

Father, we hope to enjoy forever the vision of Your glory through Christ Our Lord, through Whom You bestow on the world all that is good.

Friday, 13 April 2018

3rd Sunday of Easter Year B 2018

(Acts of the Apostles 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48)

The two disciples whom Jesus had overtaken walking towards Emmaus, although their hearts had been burning within them as He spoke with them and opened the scriptures to them, had only finally recognized Him at the breaking of bread during a meal which they had invited Him to share with them.  On their receiving the bread He had blessed, He suddenly disappeared, whereupon they set off back to Jerusalem at once to inform the apostles that very hour.

Notice, however, that when Jesus appeared again to those same disciples together with the eleven apostles and others, all gathered together secretly in that upper room:

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, He asked them, ‘Have you anything to eat?’  They gave Him a piece of fish, (which) He took and ate in front of them.

This time Jesus did not confirm His identity by sharing bread and wine with them, He simply confirmed that He was no ghost by eating some fish before them.  Why did He not break bread with them as He had done before?  It is true that unlike the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Eleven here in Jerusalem had indeed recognized Him from the beginning although they could hardly believe, as it was said, ‘for joy’.  Nevertheless, there is a more fundamental reason for Jesus’ behaviour in the private room at Jerusalem which is closely connected with our other readings today.

In the Gospel reading we heard first that Jesus took care to explain to His disciples the nature of His presence with them.  First of all, He was not with them as He had been previously:

He said to them, "These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you.

In other words, He was saying, “I am here with you now, but not as I was with you when I spoke those words to you a short while ago.”  His new presence was different: previously He had been with them as any man is with his fellow men; however, things had changed and Jesus was no longer present to them in an ordinary, worldly, way.

Let us now note just how different was His new presence with them, and how He would make Himself present to His disciples in the future.

First, He took great care to explain His presence in the Scriptures:

“Everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms must be fulfilled."  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

That presence in the Scriptures might be called His first mode of presence to His disciples after His Resurrection because it begins with the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms, as Jesus Himself said, ‘Moses wrote about Me’.

A new mode presence was recounted for us in the Gospel reading by the report brought by those two disciples who had been on the way to Emmaus telling:

            How Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

That new and second manner of presence -- His Eucharistic presence -- had been prepared for by Jesus in His teaching and miracles during the course of His public ministry, before being formally instituted at the Last Supper with His Apostles.

In our Gospel reading today, however, a third mode of His presence is drawn to our attention by His not celebrating the Eucharist with those assembled in the room on this occasion.  He was not present in that Jerusalem room by virtue of the Eucharist, instead He confirms the reality of a third mode of presence:

Look at My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Touch Me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have."

"Have you anything here to eat?"  They gave Him a piece of a baked fish; He took it and ate it in front of them.

This is the presence He had foretold with the words:

Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

We can find Jesus, experience in varying measure His presence, in the Old Testament Scriptures, in the Eucharist, and in the Church gathered together in His name, as we are today, to hear and appropriate His Gospel.  He is not with us today as an ordinary human being, as was the case formerly with His disciples in Palestine; but He is always present for us foreshadowed in the ancient Scriptures; always spiritually present with and powerfully addressing those assembled together to hear and promote His Gospel; and supremely, always Personally present in His Eucharist sacrifice and feast.

As Peter explained to those who had witnessed his cure of the lame man:

By faith in His name, this man, whom you see and know, His Name has made strong, and the faith that comes through It has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.  (Acts 3:16)

Living by ‘faith in His name’ is the supremely authentic way of responding with personal love to Jesus’ gracious Personal presence, and with a commitment of obedient and public witness to His word, as St. John told us in his letter for our second reading:

Whoever keeps His word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.

The way that we may be sure that we know Him is to keep His commandments.

By signalling the various modes of His presence to and for His believers Jesus was preparing His Church for her great world-wide mission to proclaim:

            Repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all the nations.

The early Christians were still very closely bound up with their Jewish brethren in the synagogue; indeed, many still worshipped with them in the Temple and in the synagogue.  However, in our Gospel reading Jesus is preparing His Church for the future and it is essential that her proclamation be recognized as independent of her Jewish origins: those origins are never to be denied but they are not, henceforth, to be racially restrictive or spiritually definitive:

Repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.

For all disciples of Jesus, the Torah -- the unattainable perfection of prescriptive Law -- must yield to the Gospel, the Good News of God’s grace; Mother Church would replace the Temple as the ‘house’ where God is pleased to dwell and be found, to be praised and share His glory, to be invoked and give His blessing.   However, God Himself would no longer be glorified simply as the Lord of Creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Who formed Israel and rescued her from the slavery of Egypt and Who brought her back again from exile in Babylon.  He now wills to be recognized above all as the One God Who sent His only begotten Son to put on human flesh, and Who, on raising Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour in that human flesh from the bonds of death, has formed a new creation: a family of adopted children sharing in the glory of His only Son and being led from earthly exile back to their Father’s presence by His Gift of the Holy Spirit.   

He Who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."    And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful." (Revelation 21:5)

And now, we can recognize and admire, indeed love, another mystery – God’s mysteries are always astoundingly beautiful, wondrously fulfilling, endlessly and intriguingly absorbing – which is Our Blessed Lady’s membership of the original Church; for that presence of Mary was surely the nearest thing to the presence of Jesus Himself for His nascent Church, for who could look at, listen to, her without thinking of Jesus?   It was a presence specially bestowed for the Church’s sufferings at her birth in this sinful world.

After the indescribable joy of her dear Son’s Resurrection; after the happiness she had known at His Ascension, what else remained for Mary on earth?  How could she possibly look forward to anything ahead of her here below; her Lord and Saviour, her Love, her only begotten Son, had gone.  She rejoiced for Him and recognized His disciples most gratefully, but for herself?  Why had she not been allowed … somehow ... to follow her Son, why did He not call her to Himself in, or after, His Ascension?   Happily, Mary had long ago learnt to die to herself, and so, if any thoughts such as these entered her mind she would most certainly never have entertained or dwelt on them in any way.

However, there was something she could never forget, nor try to set aside: her Son’s dying words to her:

            Woman, behold your son!

Those words, beginning with that portentous word ‘Woman’ meant so much on His lips, let alone on His dying lips!!  What did they mean for her??

There are but two facts we know that can illuminate this part of Mary’s life on earth after her Son’s Resurrection and Ascension: first of all, from the Church’s viewpoint, she was needed to be mother, the mother, for all the children Jesus had, from His Cross, committed to her loving care.  She understood easily her role with regard to John, Jesus’ youngest disciple … but were there others?   That address, ‘Woman’ seemed to suggest the possibility that perhaps there might be others??  She only knew that she would have to wait, pray about, listen for, and then follow Jesus’ Gift of the Holy Spirit to His Church.

To our great delight Mary’s subsequent experience of the Spirit in her heart, and in her life and work with and for her new children in Jesus’ Church, was such as to prepare her finally to follow, fully and uniquely, her beloved Son.  At the Father’s behest, and in the power of His Spirit, she would indeed follow Jesus, and thanks to her experience in His Church, she would be fully able and prepared to embrace and respond to her ultimate destiny and calling, as Queen of Heaven, leaving behind her such a blessed memory among her children on earth, that the Church Jesus had founded and endowed would henceforth be both gratefully and lovingly called Mother Church by her devoted children.

Friday, 6 April 2018

2nd Sunday of Easter Year B 2018

2nd. Sunday of Easter (B)  
    (Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35; 1st. Letter of John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31)

Jesus said to Thomas, "Have you come to believe because you have seen Me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.

What precisely was John’s meaning in that passage from today’s Gospel reading?

Having just reported Jesus as saying:

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed;

he then himself added:

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book.

It would seem that John is saying that he has omitted to tell us of many other signs  accomplished by Jesus in the presence His disciples because of the Risen Lord’s words of solemn admonition to Thomas:

          Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,

which imply that many signs should really not be necessary. 

John seems to have thought that those believers to whom he was writing after the Resurrection of the Lord, were better placed than Thomas and himself, along with the other disciples, had been before Jesus’ Resurrection: ‘you shouldn’t need me to tell you now of all Jesus’ signs and miracles, whereas we – Thomas especially, myself, and the others -- loving disciples though we were, had been weak in those early days because we did not, at the time, have that fullness of faith which is now yours’.

In his letter John also says:

Who indeed is the victor over the world, but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Here he is taking up again his Gospel teaching, saying that whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that is, whoever is one of those praised by Jesus for believing without ‘seeing’, such a one has overcome the world; and his victory over the world is proved by the fact that he is spiritually alive and strong in Jesus without any requirement of worldly evidence.   Indeed, need for worldly corroboration could only signal a weakness in the spiritual life of a true Christian.

Now, why does John praise such an attitude in response to Jesus’ gospel?

Not, indeed, because he wants to signal out and laud any human being for his or her own individual spiritual strength, but rather to show us all how sublime and divinely spiritual is Christian faith, since, ultimately, only God the Father can introduce us to such faith, as John tells us in his Gospel (6:43-45):

Jesus said to the Jews, "Do not murmur among yourselves.  No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

Worldly evidence cannot establish the spiritual realities of our Christian faith, it can only help our faithful appreciation of them.  Acceptance of the Gospel message on the basis of worldly evidence is no authentic substitute for true faith given in response to God’s grace inspiring our heart, enlightening our mind, and moving our will.  John is not against us using our natural intelligence in response to the Gospel of Jesus, after all, he expressly tells us why he wrote his Gospel:

These (signs) are written that you may believe (that they may help you believe) that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Rather is it that, for St. John, the supreme function of the Gospel message is to provoke, awaken and promote our awareness of, our contact with and response to, God Himself; and that contact, that response, though based essentially on the Gospel message, is not to be limited to or constrained by the written words of the Gospel.   The truth about Jesus, and indeed about God, is broader, wider, goes deeper and higher, is more intimately personal than the inspired but human words of the Gospels; that is why we Catholics accept the Tradition of the Church and acknowledge development in the doctrine of Faith; all, however, on the basis of, and never in contradiction to, the original Gospel proclamation.  And that is also why the Catholic Church has always recognized, revered and delighted in, her authentic saints as shining beacons and inspiring examples of that possibility open to all her faithful children for wondrous personal communion with God and those closest to Him in our heavenly home.

And here we have come to the essential characteristic of our Christian, Resurrection, Faith.  It is not simply a faith to be learned, it is not even just a faith to be loved; it is a faith to be experienced, loved, and lived: not only in the sense of obeying its commands and fighting for its rights, but, above all, as a communion with the Father, in His Incarnate Son our Lord and Saviour, by God’s great Gift, His most Holy Spirit.   The Catholic Church, the Church which is the Body of Christ living by the Spirit of Christ, is able to receive God-given grace and guidance to appreciate -- and more appropriately, more fully, understand – the Good News of Jesus’ Gospel, through her living communion with God.  Mother Church today is still called to allow herself to be inspired by God, not indeed to write or proclaim a new revelation, but to understand more fully and appreciate more deeply the revelation originally and finally given to her by God.

This is why the Catholic Church can never be or become a university Church in which the teaching of God is subject to exclusively rational argument and justification, a Church where only that teaching which, having been sifted and given a majority vote of scholarly approval, is considered suitable for provisional acceptance as Church doctrine.  Nor, on the emotional side, can the Church of Jesus -- inspired by the Spirit for the ultimate glory of the Father’s inconceivable goodness and holiness – ever be subject to human pseudo-spiritual and/or emotional approval: that is, what modern men and women may regard as ‘nice’ or ‘not nice enough’ when predicated of God.  For example, some seem to think that the following words of Jesus Himself are ‘not suitable’ for people today:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.  (Mt. 10:28)

The true Church is a mystical Church where worldly perceptions and human reasoning -- whether merely rational or emotionally ‘spiritual’ -- are most certainly not the authentic ways of approaching and evaluating Jesus’ teaching and divine truths. In Mother Church scholarly techniques and attainments, though widely employed, gratefully used, and truly appreciated, are also necessarily subjected to the transcendent authority of the Good News and especially the very words of Our Lord Jesus Christ; subject, that is, to a spiritual and divine awareness, gleaned and received under the guidance of the Spirit, from communion with, and response to, the revealing and redeeming God.

All this is contained in those words of our Creed which say: ‘I believe in one, holy, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC Church’, or put in another way, ‘I believe in one holy Church – Jesus’ Church -- because it is Catholic and Apostolic’.   Those words do not simply state that we believe the Catholic Church to have been founded by Jesus Christ and established on His Apostles, to be guided and preserved by His Spirit; they also mean that it is only in the Catholic Church -- only in her atmosphere, so to speak -- that we are able to breath fully as Christians, fully endowed and empowered to believe aright the fullness of truth  about God and His will for the salvation of mankind.

Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.   And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

         The Spirit is the One that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.

Oh, you believing Catholics, appreciate and be grateful for the treasure you have been given!  John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved particularly, accounts you as -- in some measure -- better placed in relation to Jesus than he himself was in the days of the Lord’s public ministry!!   What is more, your faith has been given to you at the instigation of heavenly Father Himself Who has P/personally called you and introduced you to Jesus; and that faith is being continually nourished and purified -- even to this very day, at this very hour – by the Holy Spirit of Truth and Love, in the womb of Mother Church, with a view to your sharing and living fully and eternally in the Body of Christ.    Amen.