"How long are you going to keep us in suspense?"

It is a common complaint among atheists and agnostics: If God exists, and he wants us to believe in Him, why doesn't he make his presence more obvious?

Jesus faces a similar question in today's Gospel reading:
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
His response is to point out how plainly his works have testifies to who he really is. He goes on to tell them explicitly: "The Father and I are one."

Yet many are still unable to believe it.

The problem, both with coming to know God or coming to believe in his Son, is that it is a total paradigm shift. It isn't really a question of evidence. The evidence is there...it has been all along. For the believer, the presence of God shines forth clearly in the beauty of his creation, in the people he created in his image and likeness, in the miracles that constantly (if subtly) happen around us, and even in the quiet depths of the human heart itself.

The issue is that all of these things can be explained away. The beauty of nature is just an accident. Humans are just extremely intelligent animals. 'Miracles' are simply coincidences and misunderstandings at best, or frauds at worst. The longing for God within us is nothing more than wishful thinking.

How can these explanations be countered?

The simple answer is: they can't. Not with intellectual arguments and apologetics. Ultimately, our ability to know God is a work of pure grace. It is his work to touch hearts and transform minds.

That isn't to say that we can't help people tear down some of the intellectual barriers that stand in the way of their response to that grace. In the end, though, talk is never enough.

How, then, do we spread the Gospel to a world that is increasingly unable or unwilling to hear it?

First, we have to live it with integrity and joy. Both are required. Second, we have to trust in the power of grace...especially in the means of grace that we are given by the Lord.

Prayer is effective. The sacraments and sacramentals are effective.

Our goal should not be to 'prove' God's existence to anyone, but rather to demonstrate it. This is the path of the Master, and it has to be our path as disciples. God knows when people are disposed to accept the grace that he offers...we simply need to be available as instruments.

Remember: God calls us to be saints, not a bible salesmen.

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