At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’
Jesus answered: ‘I have told you, and you do not believe.’
In this age of modern technology, we are constantly bombarded with messages. We receive news headlines, shopping offers, local community bulletins, and warnings about the safety of the messages we receive. And, of course, in the last week we have received a test alarm that, when used, will warn us of an imminent danger to life and limb. We are bombarded with messages.
As is the way with human beings we develop our own way of editing all those messages. Many, probably the majority, are ignored and deleted. The overload of irrelevant information has led us towards ignoring almost all of those intrusive messages. But, this can work to our disadvantage.
Sometimes the message that is automatically deleted is important. It is a message that can bring about great change. It is one of those messages that needed us to pause and think carefully. It might have been one of those messages that demands a change in lifestyle, but it could still have been the one that would have made a great and positive difference to the lives we live.
In today’s reading Jesus is speaking to the Jews who have gathered around him when he attended the Festival of Dedication in Jerusalem. Those Jews want to know whether he is the long-awaited Messiah. You can almost hear Jesus’ exasperation when he says: I have told you, and you do not believe. We can be like those Jews. We have received the message of Jesus’ Messiahship; we have heard the accounts of the wonders and signs he performed in the presence of those questioning Jews; we have heard the testimony of those faithful souls who witnessed the power of Christ’s resurrection at first hand. But … we still filter all of those clear messages … we delete that which seems too good to be true and we distance ourselves from God.
This process of editing and deleting important messages is not one-way. Sometimes we are the bearers of that all-important message, and we are the ones who are not believed; we are the ones whose listeners refuse to hear; we are the ones who feel Jesus’ frustration when he said: I have told you, and you do not believe.
Today’s reading challenges us to listen to Jesus’ teaching and to pause and ponder on his words. It challenges us to respond in joy, rather than press ‘delete’ in doubt and despair. In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote these words: The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Paul’s words urge us to pause and think when we find ourselves confronted with the Good News of Jesus Christ … to be careful that we do not automatically press the ‘delete’ button and miss out on the greatest offer humanity has ever been given.