READING OF THE DAY: 29 MARCH, 2016

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“Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.

And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.

And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”

When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”

She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.

But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her.” – John 20:11-18.

READING OF THE DAY: 27 MARCH, 2016

Resurrection

 
“On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.

So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.

For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” – John 20:1-9.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 27 MARCH, 2016

Saint John Damascene

Doctor of the Church
(676-780)

Saint John Damascene

Saint John was born in the late 7th century, and is the most remarkable of the Greek writers of the 8th century.

His father was a civil authority who was Christian amid the Saracens of Damascus, whose caliph made him his minister.

This enlightened man found in the public square one day, amid a group of sad Christian captives, a priest of Italian origin who had been condemned to slavery; he ransomed him and assigned him to his young son to be his tutor.

Young John made extraordinary progress in grammar, dialectic, mathematics, music, poetry, astronomy, but above all in theology, the discipline imparting knowledge of God.

John became famous for his encyclopedic knowledge and theological method, later a source of inspiration to Saint Thomas Aquinas.

When his father died, the caliph made of him his principal counselor, his Grand Vizier.

Thus it was through Saint John Damascene that the advanced sciences made their apparition among the Arab Moslems, who had burnt the library of Alexandria in Egypt; it was not the Moslems who instructed the Christians, as was believed for some time in Europe.

Saint John vigorously opposed the ferocious Iconoclast persecution instigated by the Emperor of Constantinople, Leo the Isaurian.

He distinguished himself, with Saint Germain, Patriarch of Constantinople, in the defense of the veneration of sacred images.

The Emperor, irritated, himself conjured up a plot against him.

A letter was forged, signed with Saint John’s name, and addressed to himself, the Emperor of Constantinople, offering to deliver up the city of Damascus to him.

That letter was then transmitted by the Emperor to the Caliph of Damascus, advising him as a good neighbor should do, that he had a traitor for minister.

Although Saint John vigorously defended himself against the charge, he was condemned by the Caliph to have his right hand cut off.

The severed hand, by order of the Caliph, was attached to a post in a public square. But Saint John obtained the hand afterwards, and invoked the Blessed Virgin in a prayer which has been preserved; he prayed to be able to continue to write the praises of Her Son and Herself.

The next morning when he awoke, he found his hand joined again to the arm, leaving no trace of pain, but only a fine red line like a bracelet, marking the site of the miracle.

The Saint was reinstated afterwards to the favor of the local prince, but he believed that heaven had made it clear he was destined to serve the Church by his writings.

He therefore distributed his property and retired soon thereafter to the monastery of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem, where he spent most of his remaining years in apologetic writings and prayer.

Occasionally he left to console the Christians of Syria and Palestine and strengthen them, even going to Constantinople in the hope of obtaining martyrdom there.

However, he was able to return to his monastery.

There he died in peace at the age of 104, and was buried near the door of the monastery church, in the year 780.

(SOURCE: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5;The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908).)

READING OF THE DAY: 26 MARCH, 2016

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“At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.

They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?

He is not here, but he has been raised.

Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.”

And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others.

The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.” – Luke 24:1-12.

SAINT OF THE DAY: 24 MARCH, 2016

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Saint Gabriel, Archangel

The day before the great feast of the Annunciation, the Church celebrates the feast of the Archangel who brought to earth the glad tidings that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of the Incarnate God.

This angelic Messenger appears several times in the history of God’s chosen people.

He came to Daniel the prophet after he had a vision of the future Persian and Greek empires, to explain the vision to him, as Daniel narrates in the eighth chapter of his book.

So great was the Archangel’s majesty that the prophet fell on his face trembling.

The Angel of the Incarnation again appeared to the prophet to answer his prayer at the end of the exile, and advise him of the exact date of the future Redemption by the long-awaited Messiah.

When the fullness of time had come, Gabriel was sent several times as the harbinger of the Incarnation of the Most High God.

First, to the Temple of Jerusalem, while Zachary stood at the altar of incense, to tell him that his wife Elizabeth would bring forth a son to be called John, who would prepare the way of the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

Six months later the great Archangel again appeared, bearing the greatest message God ever sent to earth.

Standing before the Blessed Virgin Mary, this great Archangel of God trembled with reverence as he offered Her the ineffable honor of becoming Mother of the Eternal Word.

Upon Her consent, the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

It was he, we can readily believe, who also fortified Saint Joseph for his mission as virginal father of the Saviour.

Gabriel rightly bears the beautiful name, the strength of God, manifesting in every apparition the power and glory of the Eternal.

According to some of the Fathers of the Church, it was Saint Gabriel, Angel of the Incarnation, who invited the shepherds of Bethlehem to come to the Crib to adore the newborn God.

He was with Jesus in His Agony, no less ready to be the strength of God in the Garden than at Nazareth and Bethlehem.

Throughout Christian tradition he is the Angel of the Incarnation, the Angel of consolation, the Angel of mercy.

(SOURCE: Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, edited by Rev. Hugo Hoever, S.O. Cist., Ph.D. Catholic Book Publishing Co. (New York: 1951-1955); La Sainte Bible commentée, Ed. Abbé L.-Cl. Fillion (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, 1903), Vol. VI, pp. 298-303, notes)

READING OF THE DAY: 24 MARCH, 2016

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“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.

He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.

The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.

So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.

He took a towel and tied it around his waist.

Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.”

Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”

Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.”

For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?

You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.

I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” – John 13:1-15. .

SAINT OF THE DAY: 21 MARCH, 2016

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SAINT BENEDETTA CAMBIAGIO FRASSINELLO
(1791 – 1858
)

        Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello was born on 2 October 1791 in Langasco (Genoa) Italy; she died on 21 March 1858 in Ronco Scrivia in Liguria.

She was wife, religious and foundress.

She let the Holy Spirit guide her through married life to the work of education and religious consecration.

She founded a school for the formation of young women and also a religious congregation, and did both with the generous collaboration of her husband.

This is unique in the annals of Christian sanctity.

Benedetta was a pioneer in her determination to give a high quality education to young women, for the formation of families for a “new Christian society” and for promoting the right of women to a complete education.

Call to marriage, then to religious life:

From her parents Benedetta received a Christian formation that rooted in her the life of faith.

Her family settled in Pavia when she was a girl.

When she was 20 years old, Benedetta had a mystical experience that gave her a profound desire for a life of prayer and penance, and of consecration to God.

However, in obedience to the wishes of her parents, in 1816, she married Giovanni Frassinello and lived married life for two years.

In 1818, moved by the example of his saintly wife, Giovanni agreed that the two should live chastely, “as brother and sister” and take care of Benedetta’s younger sister, Maria, who was dying from intestinal cancer.

They began to live a supernatural parenthood quite unique in the history of the Church.

Congregation founded by wife, who is supported by her husband:

Following Maria’s death in 1825, Giovanni entered the Somaschi Fathers founded by St Jerome Emiliani, and Benedetta devoted herself completely to God in the Ursuline Congregation of Capriolo.

A year later she was forced to leave because of ill health, and returned to Pavia where she was miraculously cured by St Jerome Emiliani.

Once she regained her health, with the Bishop’s approval, she dedicated herself to the education of young girls. Benedetta needed help in handling such a responsibility, but her own father refused to help her.

Bishop Tosi of Pavia asked Giovanni to leave the Somaschi novitiate and help Benedettain her apostolic work.

Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the hands of the bishop, and then began their common work to promote the human and Christian formation of poor and abandoned girls of the city.

Their educational work was of great benefit to Pavia. Benedetta became the first woman to be involved in this kind of work.

The Austrian government recognized her as a “Promoter of Public Education”.

She was helped by young women volunteers to whom she gave a rule of life that later received ecclesiastical approval.

Along with instruction, she joined formation in catechesis and in useful skills like cooking and sewing, aiming to transform her students into “models of Christian life” and so assure the formation of families.

Benedictine Sisters of Providence:

Benedetta’s work was considered pioneering for those days and was opposed by a few persons in power and by the misunderstanding of clerics.

In 1838 she turned over the institution to the Bishop of Pavia.

Together with Giovanni and five companions, she moved to Ronco Scrivia in the Genoa region.

There they opened a school for girls that was a refinement on what they had done in Pavia.

Eventually, Benedetta founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence.

In her rule she stressed the education of young girls.

She instilled the spirit of unlimited confidence and abandonment to Providence and of love of God through poverty and charity.

The Congregation grew quickly since it performed a needed service.

Benedetta was able to guide the development of the Congregation until her death.

On 21 March 1858 she died in Ronco Scrivia.

Her example is that of supernatural maternity plus courage and fidelity in discerning and living God’s will.

Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil.

They are at the service of young people, the poor, the sick and the elderly.

The foundress also opened a house of the order in Voghera.

Forty years after the death of Benedetta, the bishop separated this house from the rest of the Order.

The name was changed to the Benedictines of Divine Providence who honour the memory of the Foundress.

She was canonized by John Paul II on May 19, 2002.

(SOURCE: Libreria Editrice Vaticana)

READING OF THE DAY: 21 MARCH, 2016

the-anointing-at-bethany-01
“Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.

Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

Then Judas the Iscariot, one (of) his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?

He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.

So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.

You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

(The) large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.” – John 12:1-11.

READING OF THE DAY: 20 MARCH, 2016

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“When the hour came, Jesus took his place at table with the apostles.

He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,
for, I tell you, I shall not eat it (again) until there is fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves;
for I tell you (that) from this time on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.

And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed.”

And they began to debate among themselves who among them would do such a deed.

Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.

He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’; but among you it shall not be so.

Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.

For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves?

Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.

It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat,but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”

He said to him, “Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.”

But he replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.”

He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?”

“No, nothing,” they replied.

He said to them, “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, namely, ‘He was counted among the wicked’; and indeed what is written about me is coming to fulfillment.”

Then they said, “Lord, look, there are two swords here.”

But he replied, “It is enough!”

Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.

When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.”

After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed,
saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

(And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.)

When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.

He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

While he was still speaking, a crowd approached and in front was one of the Twelve, a man named Judas.

He went up to Jesus to kiss him.

Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?”

And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.

But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him.

And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”

After arresting him they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest;

Peter was following at a distance.

They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat around it, and Peter sat down with them.

When a maid saw him seated in the light, she looked intently at him and said, “This man too was with him.”

But he denied it saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

A short while later someone else saw him and said, “You too are one of them”; but Peter answered, “My friend, I am not.”

About an hour later, still another insisted, “Assuredly, this man too was with him, for he also is a Galilean.”

But Peter said, “My friend, I do not know what you are talking about.”

Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and

Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.”

He went out and began to weep bitterly.

The men who held Jesus in custody were ridiculing and beating him.

They blindfolded him and questioned him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?”
And they reviled him in saying many other things against him.

When day came the council of elders of the people met, both chief priests and scribes, and they brought him before their Sanhedrin.

They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us,” but he replied to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I question, you will not respond.

But from this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied to them, “You say that I am.”

Then they said, “What further need have we for testimony? We have heard it from his own mouth.”

Then the whole assembly of them arose and brought him before Pilate.

They brought charges against him, saying, “We found this man misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.”

Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.”

Pilate then addressed the chief priests and the crowds, “I find this man not guilty.”

But they were adamant and said, “He is inciting the people with his teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to here.”

On hearing this Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean; and upon learning that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod who was in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod was very glad to see Jesus; he had been wanting to see him for a long time, for he had heard about him and had been hoping to see him perform some sign.

He questioned him at length, but he gave him no answer.

The chief priests and scribes, meanwhile, stood by accusing him harshly.

(Even) Herod and his soldiers treated him contemptuously and mocked him, and after clothing him in resplendent garb, he sent him back to Pilate.

Herod and Pilate became friends that very day, even though they had been enemies formerly.

Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people and said to them, “You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him.

Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

But all together they shouted out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us.”

(Now Barabbas had been imprisoned for a rebellion that had taken place in the city and for murder.)

Again Pilate addressed them, still wishing to release Jesus, but they continued their shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Pilate addressed them a third time, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him.”

With loud shouts, however, they persisted in calling for his crucifixion, and their voices prevailed.

The verdict of Pilate was that their demand should be granted.

So he released the man who had been imprisoned for rebellion and murder, for whom they asked, and he handed Jesus over to them to deal with as they wished.

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.

A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him.

Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.’

At that time people will say to the mountains, ‘Fall upon us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’
for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry?”

Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed.

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left.

(Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”)

They divided his garments by casting lots.

The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him.

As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”

Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon
because of an eclipse of the sun.

Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

The centurion who witnessed what had happened glorified God and said, “This man was innocent beyond doubt.”

When all the people who had gathered for this spectacle saw what had happened, they returned home beating their breasts; but all his acquaintances stood at a distance, including the women who had followed him from Galilee and saw these events.

Now there was a virtuous and righteous man named Joseph who, though he was a member of the council, had not consented to their plan of action.

He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea and was awaiting the kingdom of God.

He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

After he had taken the body down, he wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid him in a rock-hewn tomb in which no one had yet been buried.

It was the day of preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin.

The women who had come from Galilee with him followed behind, and when they had seen the tomb and the way in which his body was laid in it,they returned and prepared spices and perfumed oils.

Then they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.” – Luke 22:14-71.23:1-56.

READING OF THE DAY: 18 MARCH, 2016

 

 

 

Forgiveness - all within my hands

 “The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.

Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father.

For which of these are you trying to stone me?”

The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy.

You, a man, are making yourself God.”

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘?

If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

(Then) they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained.

Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.”

And many there began to believe in him.” – John 10:31-42.