Bob Ryan ’97

One day earlier this summer, my children were playing with a few friends, thoroughly enjoying summer vacation. After watching them get completely lost in goofiness, I quipped, “What planet are you from?”

In reflecting on today’s gospel, I continue to think back to that scene a few weeks ago. I’ve read this passage from John countless times in my life. For the first time, however, I’ve found myself pondering, and identifying with, the confusion that the Jews’ express: “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother?” When I place myself in the story, I hear them asking, “What planet are you from?!”

When my wife and I reflect on the people our children are becoming, we marvel, chuckle, and occasionally grimace at how clearly we see in them some of the traits and tendencies we see in each other and in ourselves. I’m an educator, and I notice this time and again when I meet the parents of my students or when I teach multiple siblings. Of course, each of us is the child of our parents and usually have plenty of inherited traits to prove it.

I thank God every day for all that I’ve learned and inherited from my parents and pray equally as hard that my children inherit more of my positive traits than my negative ones! But because we believe in an incarnate God, we know that each of us is more than the sum total of inherited genetic material, and today’s passage is a cautionary tale about assuming too much based on who someone’s parents are.

Jesus’ audience in today’s story cannot imagine or comprehend the fullness of who he is. This is the miracle, and the gift, of the incarnation. Might we all more fully embrace and appreciate the person God has created us to become and celebrate and honor others as the unique children of God they are.