Immersed in Christ Reflections Sun May 28
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (Year A)
Spirit and Flesh
Questions to Ask Yourself
In the Entrance Antiphon, not only do we say that our heart prompts us to “seek your face,” but we
declare positively to God: “I seek it. Lord, do not hide from me.” Am I making both of these statements personally? Or am I just repeating them because they are “in the book”? How do I “seek God’s face?” Is the glory of Jesus “hidden” from me in the world I live in, or do I see it constantly? Where? How?
Ideas to Consider
In the Opening Prayer we affirm that Christ “lives with God in glory,” but that he also “promised to remain with us until the end of time.” Both statements are verified when we see Christ “glorified” visibly on earth. Then the words of the Gloria at Mass: “We praise you for your glory,” take on the ring of personal experience.
When we sing in the Responsorial Psalm: “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” Psalm 27), we mean we will see God’s glory here on earth — in the “community of the living” — as well as in heaven.
Apostles and prophets
Acts 1: 12-24 makes a point of listing again the names of the original Twelve (minus Judas) chosen by Jesus to be apostles. This is because they were unique witnesses to Jesus.
First, there had to be twelve of them to show that the Church was the continuation of the Chosen People, the twelve tribes of Israel. In his vision of the "end time" John reports the angel saying to him: "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
And in the spirit he... showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.... It has a great, high wall with twelve gates... and on the gates are inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.... And the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and on them are the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9-12).
Jesus chose Twelve apostles to be the foundation of his Church. That is why Peter's first act as head of the Church after the Ascension was to call for a twelfth witness to replace Judas.
But the Twelve also had to be historical witnesses. The replacement had to be "one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us." (Acts 1:21-22). Still today, to be a fully authentic witness to Jesus, one has to be in historical continuity with, accepted and approved by, the community of those who knew him during his earthly life.
Saint Paul would not have qualified as one of the Twelve, because he did not know Jesus before his resurrection. That is why Paul, although he had already been baptized and had been preaching for three years, went up to Jerusalem to "visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days." Then after fourteen years, "in response to a revelation" he went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus, his co-workers, for "a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders." There, he says, "I laid before them the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain." And he was approved. "When James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised" (Galatians 1:18, 2:1-9).
The Church Paul helped to establish was and is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20). The apostles are the link with the historical Jesus. But the prophets are proof that the risen Jesus is alive and speaking in the Church today through his Spirit. Both are essential. That is why Jesus told the disciples before his Ascension, "not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father.... You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:4-8). And that is why today's reading, after listing the apostles' names, shows them gathered in an upstairs room, "constantly devoting themselves to prayer."
Christ in you, the hope of glory
John 17: 1-11 tells us Jesus is "glorified" in us. This means that his "glory," his greatness, his goodness, and his triumph as Messiah and Savior of the world is made evident in us. We are the visible manifestation and proof that he is what he claimed to be.
We glorify Jesus the same way he glorified the Father, Jesus said, "I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do." We glorify Jesus by doing the work he gave us to do. And that work is made specific for us in our baptismal consecration: we were anointed at Baptism to fulfill the triple mission of Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King. We glorify him because when we do his work, it becomes evident that Jesus is risen, alive, and doing the work himself — with us, in us and through us.
Jesus got specific about the work the Father gave him. It was "to give eternal life" to all whom the Father gave him. Our work on earth is to be the instruments through which Jesus continues to "give eternal life" - that is, to communicate to others "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," which is the gift of sharing in the divine life of God.
And "this is eternal life," Jesus said: "that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." This was his work: "I have made your name known to those whom you gave me." Jesus lived and breathed to bring about the first thing he taught us to pray for: "Father, hallowed be thy name!" The first priority of his life, the greatest desire of his heart, was that the Father should be known, appreciated and loved. For humans, this is salvation: "This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God."
Jesus made the Father known by embodying in himself the life, the truth, the goodness of the Father. He "cried aloud" to his unbelieving listeners, "Whoever sees me sees him who sent me" (John 12:45). And to Philip, who said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied," he answered, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:8-9). For us to glorify Jesus, people have to see Jesus in us, alive and revealing himself in what we do. But this means our "works" must be manifestly impossible by human power, human motivation alone. To glorify Jesus we need to do what can only be done by the power of his Spirit acting in us.
Jesus glorified the Father by being the visible "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) and the "reflection of God's glory" (Hebrews 1:3). He continues to glorify the Father in his body, the Church. The life, the truth, the goodness and glory of God are made visible now in those in whom the risen Jesus continues to live, through whom he continues to act visibly on earth. Jesus said of his disciples "I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world." And "I have been glorified in them." He is glorified through our works.
Of himself Jesus said, "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves." "The Father who dwells in me does his works." Of his disciples he said, "The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these." Jesus will work in and through them: "I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son." We glorify the Son by making his life visible in us. St. Ireneus said," "Life in humans is the glory of God; the life of humans is the vision of God" - provided the life that is seen cannot be explained except by the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" risen and living his divine life in us.
Jesus said, "In a little while the world will no longer see me, but... because I live, you also will live." He could have added, "And the world will see me in you." "On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you" (see John 14:10-20). God has chosen to make known through us "the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:26-27). This is what it means to be a prophet.
The glory of "enduring love"
1Peter 4: 13-16 encourages us to "rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed." The fact is, his glory is already revealed - here and now - in those who "are reviled for the name of Christ." When this happens, Peter says, "you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you" - and made visible in your “enduring love”: provided, of course, that you are not suffering as "a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker," but unambiguously out of faith and love for God. "If any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name." And know that you are giving glory to Christ by letting him reveal his empowering Spirit in you.
What desires, goals or values do you perceive in yourself that only God’s grace can explain?
Glorify Jesus as a prophet. Unite yourself daily with God in prayer; and what you experience, express visibly in your actions.