by Fr. Francis Martin

John 5:45-47: 45“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. 46For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

In order to understand these words we must think of other Jews who, in their faith and trust in God, pondered the words of Scripture and began to understand the contours of God’s plan for Israel and the world. Think of Simeon who was awaiting “the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.” When he took Jesus into his arms he blessed God, saying: "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word… for my eyes have seen your salvation… a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel" (Luke 2:25-32). Think especially of Mary who, in the light of the Holy Spirit, was prepared to understand what was being asked of her at the Annunciation, because here as well, “the holy Spirit was upon her.”

Notice in our Johannine text that Jesus says: “if you had believed Moses you would have believed me.” Observe that in the two resurrection appearances recorded by St. Luke, the risen Jesus leads the disciples to an understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures. The two disciples on the way to Emmaus exclaimed: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32). In regard to the disciples huddled in the upper room in Jerusalem: “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” [the Old Testament of course]. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45-47). St. Peter says of this gift of Old Testament prophecy: “You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

Jesus, Son of God, please open my mind to the understanding of the Scriptures. I want my heart to burn with delight in your presence. Amen.

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