Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jesus is doing His works, rapture or no rapture.

5th Sunday of Easter A
St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas

Amen. Amen. I say to you. Whoever believes in me will do the works I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.

Perhaps this line from Jesus is a small consolation prize for all of us who missed the rapture yesterday. The severe thunderstorm warning was not the end, at least not for us, and I'm planning on good weather today, not utter destruction, so that I can fish with my dad a little bit. But these words from today's Gospel of course are not meant to be a small consolation prize. What profound words at the end of the Gospel! Those of us who believe in Jesus will do his works, right here and right now - today! and will do greater ones than these, because He is going to the Father.

These lines from Jesus are important to my own vocation story. The opportunity to do his works, and greater ones if I might dare to believe him, helped to make the priesthood the answer to what I wanted to do with my life, and made everything else pale in comparison. To spend my life doing his works, sharing life with him, became the purpose of my life and the greatest joy of my heart.

Jesus offers in these lines a different picture than that painted by yesterdays rapture predictors, as pitiful as the prediction was. Christians are not to be selfish individualists, trying to predict that moment when God will finally put this world out of its misery and havy pity on a predestined few. No, this is a most impoverished view of Christianity. Christians instead are to be those who are doing the work of Jesus here and now, allowing Jesus, just as Jesus first allowed the Father, to be present and at work in them, with them, and through them. Without believing in Jesus' promise to come and to take us to the Father any less, nor desiring heaven, that place so beautiful that if we saw it we could never turn our gaze back to earth, any less, Christians are ready for heaven to come to earth not only in the most unpredictable of moments, but also in constant and enduring ways. More important than searching for that perfect moment when God will whisk us away to heaven, is to know that God wishes to make the present moment perfect by visiting his people and continuing his saving works in us, and with us and through us.

When those who have not yet met Jesus through the sacraments are able to laugh at Christians as superstitious and ultimately selfish, which happens whenever the rapture is falsely predicted, then the full proclamation of the Gospel suffers. God has made his dwelling place with men; this is the mystery of the Incarnation that we proclaim in all its fullness. God in becoming one of us has more reasons than anyone could count to be patient with us, as his patience is directed toward our salvation, and toward Jesus' desire to not lose one of those the Father gave Him. The prophetic urgency of the Christian then, is not only to proclaim that man is running out of time, but to proclaim with even more urgency the need to beg God for more time, so that he can continue his saving work in us, and with us and through us. This is what makes Christianity the most humanitarian of worldviews, and a faith that we must share urgently with those who have only the most superficial knowledge of the heart of Jesus Christ.

Let us be those who in addition to inviting the world to be ready for the rapture, and to trust in God not in themselves, invite those who are not yet members of the Church to become living stones in the spiritual house founded on the cornerstone who is Jesus Christ. This is the great humanitarian mission Jesus left us, while promising to work in us, with us and through us for the redemption of the entire world. Let us share the mission with joy as long as Jesus gives it to us, and let us ask Him urgently to give it to us more! and know ourselves most perfectly as a holy priesthood working together here and now as his Church, his mystical body, to build a heavenly kingdom that will not pass away.

Amen. Amen. I say to you. Whoever believe in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, for I am going to the Father.

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