I read a story some time ago which I doubt is true, but it deals with a very profound truth.  The setting of this story was an exclusive men’s club in London in the early part of this century.  One member of the club was an outspoken atheist.  He did not believe in God.  He was critical of religion in general, and of Christianity in particular.  One day, someone wrote a little poem and posted it on the club bulletin board.  The man’s name was Joe, and the poem about him said:  “We have heard in language, highly spiced, that Joe does not believe in Christ; but what we all would like to know, is whether Christ believes in Joe.”

                We, as Catholics, should quickly be able to answer this question like this:  Yes, Christ does believe in Joe.  He believes in Joe more than Joe believes in himself.  Not only that, He also believes in John and Jack and Jim, and Helen and Mary and Jean, or whatever your name may be.

                One of the most fascinating things about the New Testament is the amazing faith that Jesus had in all sorts of people.  Follow Jesus through the years of His ministry, and you will see that same attitude reflected toward all sorts of people – a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, a dishonest tax collector named Zacchaeus, and a Samaritan woman who had failed in marriage five times.  And one of the last things He did, just before He died, was to express His confidence in a condemned felon, who was dying on the cross right next to His own.

                All this simply suggests that He looked at people in terms of their possibilities.  You and I very often do this with children.  We see a little boy or girl as a bundle of underdeveloped possibilities.  Our minds thrill with the thoughts of what he or she might become if given the right kind of opportunity.  One major difference between Jesus and us is that Jesus took that attitude toward all people, not just children, but adults as well.

                He talked one night with a man named Nicodemus.  He was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin court.  He must have been middle aged, maybe older.  His mind was steeped in years of inflexible religious tradition.  Most people would assume that Nicodemus would always be what Nicodemus had become.  They might even have quoted the old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  But Jesus would not agree.  He saw in that crusty old Pharisee the capacity to be born again and to start life anew.

                Talk to an expert in any field, and you will find that nothing is more real to him or her than possibilities.  Luther Burbank was a genius in the field of horticulture.  He believed that every weed had the potential to become a flower.  Jesus was an expert in the realm of human nature.  He believed that every sinner had the potential to become a saint.

                Today would be well spent if you and I could catch a little of Jesus’ optimism, if His faith in each of us could inspire all of us to believe more in ourselves, more in one another, and more in Jesus.