Today’s Gospel allows us to contemplate the confusion that arose over the identity and mission of Jesus Christ. As the people come face to face with Jesus, there are misunderstandings and presumptions about who He is, how He will or will not fulfill the Old Testament prophecies and what He will accomplish. Assumptions and judgments lead to frustration and anger. So it is in every age: confusion over faith in Christ and Church teaching sparks controversy and religious disintegration. The flock is scattered if the sheep do not know their shepherd.
The people say: «We know where this man comes from; but when the Christ appears, no one will know where He comes from» (Jn 7:27) and conclude that Jesus cannot be the Messiah because He does not fit the description of “Messiah” that they have been taught. On the other hand, they know that the Chief Priests want Him dead but can see that He is walking about freely without being arrested, so that wonder «Can it be that the rulers know that this is really the Christ?» (Jn 7:26).
Jesus cuts through the confusion by identifying Himself as “sent by the One who is true” (cf. Jn 7:28). He is in charge of the situation, as He is portrayed by John, and no one touches Him because the time has not yet come for Him to fully reveal His identity and mission. Jesus defies expectations by showing Himself to be, not a conquering leader overthrowing Roman oppression but the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.
Pope Francis wrote in “Evangelii Gaudium”: «The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus». It is critical that we help everyone we meet to get beyond presumptions and judgments about who Jesus is and what the Church is and facilitate for them an encounter with Jesus. When a person comes to know who Jesus really is, joy and peace abound.