Is It Not Enough To Believe?

Is it not enough to believe? No, suggests our favorite ethernet pastor, Fr Vallee, we must believe for the right reason.

In today’s Gospel, the crowds have followed Jesus because of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus is, clearly, critical of the crowd’s motivations. He says, “You are looking for me not because you saw ‘signs’ but because you ate your full of the loaves.” This is a clear and repeated theme in John’s Gospel. Jesus always insists that the mighty works he does are not miracles or even proofs that he is who he says he is. For John’s Jesus, the deeds of power he performs are “signs.” Signs of what? Signs of his Father’s glory. It is not enough that the crowd, or ourselves for that matter, believe. We must believe for the right reason. As T.S. Eliot opined in The Cocktail Party, “the last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the right thing for the wrong reason.” So, what exactly is the right reason? The right reason, the only reason that makes any sense, is that we have come to know and love Jesus Christ.

The email address to request to be put on Vallee’s email distribution list is Cioran262@aol.com. To see the entire homily click on ‘read more.’ Search for other Fr Vallee homilies in this blog by entering ‘Vallee’ in the search box in the upper left hand corner or look for Fr Vallee in the Labels.

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Fr Vallee Homily – Aug 2 2009

I. Miracles vrs. Signs
In today’s Gospel, the crowds have followed Jesus because of the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus is, clearly, critical of the crowd’s motivations. He says, “You are looking for me not because you saw ‘signs’ but because you ate your full of the loaves.” This is a clear and repeated theme in John’s Gospel. Jesus always insists that the mighty works he does are not miracles or even proofs that he is who he says he is. For John’s Jesus, the deeds of power he performs are “signs.” Signs of what? Signs of his Father’s glory. It is not enough that the crowd, or ourselves for that matter, believe. We must believe for the right reason. As T.S. Eliot opined in The Cocktail Party, “the last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the right thing for the wrong reason.” So, what exactly is the right reason? The right reason, the only reason that makes any sense, is that we have come to know and love Jesus Christ. Jesus us tells us this himself at the end of today’s Gospel. After they have been arguing about the bread Jesus gave and the bread Moses gave in the desert, Jesus makes his case with prodigious clarity and stark simplicity: “I myself am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

II. Not coercion, invitation
Being a philosopher, I find this entire matter fascinating. You see, the great deeds Jesus performs are not miracles in the normal sense of the word; they are signs of his Father’s glory. Those of you who are not philosophers might think this to be an unimportant and rather “too subtle” distinction. But the multiplication of the loaves is not a mere historical fact or a scientific anomaly. In fact, Jesus himself says that if faith is just based on miracles and wonders, it is not really faith. The great deeds that Jesus performs are not attempts to coerce belief from skeptical crowds. The great deeds that Jesus performs are nothing less than invitations to see the glory of the Father and share in the love of the Father and the Son. The great deeds of Jesus are invitations to share in the inner life of the Trinity. This is why, even after the Ascension, Christians still perform these mighty deeds. Because Christ sent us the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is, precisely, the love which exists between the Father and the Son. Maybe there are so few miracles today because there is so little true faith or, maybe, there are still miracles going on all around us. We have just forgotten how to recognize them as such. Anyhow, that is a question for another homily.

III. A story of an old and young philosopher
I know I have waxed a bit theological today. I apologize. John’s Gospel, with all of its mystical poetry and theological dreaminess, tends to have that effect on me. Let me try to simplify. These last two weeks I have had my nephew Jason with me. He is 12 years old and a very curious (curious in the good sense) child. One of the first things he did, upon arriving, was beat me in chess. He, then, preceded to beat me in tennis. If it were not for ping-pong, I would have no manly pride left whatsoever. My nephew likes to discuss philosophy with me. One day we were discussing the nature of perfection. Well, let me be honest, we were not so much discussing as arguing. I must say I was very impressed that a 12 year old who has read a few books on philosophy could hold his own with his uncle who has a doctorate in philosophy. Anyhow as we were discussing (arguing), it dawned on me all of sudden that the very act of discussing is an act of love and respect. In fact, without love and respect, no discussion is possible. The point is I do not love my nephew because he is clever; he does not love me because I am a philosopher. We love each other and that love makes everything else possible. The crowds and ourselves do not believe in Jesus because he is powerful and can multiply loaves, cure the sick or raise the dead. We believe in Jesus Christ because we have come to know and love Jesus Christ and that love, which is an extension of the love which exists between the Father and the Son, is what makes all signs and wonders possible.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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