In the gospel of John, chapter 10, verses 31-42 we encounter Jesus responding to those who question who he is. It is a question that many ask today: Who is Jesus? What makes him so special? Put yourself in a not to unusual situation. Some colleagues join you for lunch. In the course of a very common question these days, your are asked "What do you think of this new Pope?" That question opens an interesting discussion that leads one of the non-believers in the group to ask you, "Joe, you are a Catholic, who do you believe this good fellow, Jesus, is? Yeah, how would you answer that question because, as a non-believer, I have serious difficulties in believing who he is. How do you know that this man is God as he says he is and you who are Christians believe he is?"
Perhaps you might wish that the first question had not been asked. Nonetheless, the question is before all of us today. Who is Jesus? Do I believe he is the Son of God? How do I answer these questions even in the quiet of my own mind?
Jesus tells the questioners in his situation that the miracles he has brought about are signs that he is the Son of God. Soon we shall see the ultimate proof of his Sonship when we walk our way through Holy Week, especially the Sacred Triduum, and, of course, when we celebrate Easter Sunday.
A further thought: how do I demonstrate who I am as a Roman Catholic, as a Christian? If Jesus used miracles what is there for me to do that would help others believe in the God I profess to believe? Perhaps this is a more difficult question because it forces me to consider what it is that I do that would bring another person to know and love my friend, Jesus.
As a priest, I know you, dear reader, might think that it is much easier for me to do "things" that would bring others to know Jesus. Yes, I preach and try during the week to pray and reflect on the words of Jesus that the Church presents to me and you in the Gospels each day. I know, too, that there are times when I visit the sick, when I make a run to the hospital emergency call and read sacred scripture to a dying person or for the loved ones of a person who has just gone home to meet God.
The reality is simple: it does not require a degree in theology or ordination to the priesthood to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. Every baptized person can be an apostle. Are you one that is looked upon as an apostle in your community? Do you reach out to those in need? Are you familiar with the life of Jesus that you discover reading the New Testament?
Back to the beginning? What do you think about this new Pope? Why is he so attractive to Catholics, former Catholics and non-Catholics? Why? I think the answer is this: Pope Francis is not afraid to show the world that he is an apostle, a follower of Jesus Christ. Let his life become for you and me a gift of the Holy Spirit bringing us closer to Jesus, our friend, and bringing Jesus to others who are seeking and inner peace.