The Failure to Believe in Jesus

4 April 2006: Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Numbers 21, 4-9; John 8, 21-30

As we have just heard from the Gospel of John, the cardinal sin and root of all sins is the failure to believe in Jesus. And therefore to be saved, one must believe in Jesus both in words and in action. However, experience has it that it is easy to believe in Jesus when we are at the highest and lowest points in our lives. At our highest and happiest moment, our hearts are suddenly filled with thanksgiving: for passing the entrance exams in UP, for getting high grades, for answering difficult questions correctly, for making it in the bar or board exams, for graduating, for finding a good job, for closing a deal, for winning in a contest, for winning a girl or boy’s affection, for having found a good friend. We gush with gratitude. We are filled with joy. We believe, “Yes, there is a God!” On the other hand, at our lowest and saddest moment, we cling to the Lord: when we fail exams, when we lose a job, when someone dies, when losing someone, when our hearts break, when our hopes are gashed to death, when rejected, when beset by problems, when victimized by calamities. We put all hopes in God. We cry out for mercy. We still believe, “Lord, please help me!” In both cases, we affirm God.

Believing becomes challenging and difficult not at those extreme experiences. Believing becomes difficult when in the middle of these two extremes. It is like the experience of the Israelites in the first reading. They are in a caravan trudging through the desert. The thrill of the escape from Egypt has worn off and all they can see is sand. They have forgotten where they have come from, and they have lost sight of where they are going, then, they began to complain. They began to doubt God. They began to blame Moses for bringing them in the desert. Trusting in God and having confidence in Him in their journey has become difficult to come by.

Same thing with us. When we have forgotten all the graces the Lord has given and we have forgotten that the Lord has saved us in our lowest moments, and we cannot see anything on the horizon, when everything is sand, and we lose sight of where we are going, believing becomes all the more difficult. Often these are the experiences when one is in the 2nd and 3rd year in college: the excitement of passing UP has worn off, and graduation is far from being considered; when one has landed a job and is now just going through the regular times, and finding another job has not yet presented itself; when you are at the middle of your thesis and you do not know how it will end; trusting and having confidence in God and in oneself, often becomes difficult. At these times, you don’t feel excited; everything is “as usual”, “regular”, “fine”, “ganito pa rin”, “heto, what else is new”, “boring”, “walang kabuhay-buhay”, “colorless”, “loveless.” At these moments, we find ourselves complaining about this and that, and it is easy to see the faults of others, and then we, like the Israelites, blame God and others for our unexciting life.

Believing means remembering. There is a song that goes like this: “Do you remember the times of your life?” When I forget where I have come from and lose sight of where I am going, what thoughts and feelings rise up in me? How can I renew my sense of trust in God and confidence about my particular journey? Maybe as we spend Holy Week, let us begin to recount, rekindle, and remember God in the times of our lives.

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