|To see Christ is to see the Father|
May 18, 2014
|Mary Jo Tully|
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7
1 Peter 2:4-9
As a youngster I thought that priests and sisters were supposed to be holy and that the rest of us only needed to be good. I thought I knew the difference between those two characteristics. Over the years, it has become more clear that all of us are called to be holy. As church became Church — not a place, but a people — our tasks in this Church became less clear. Lay people became educated in theology and religious education and the task of administering the finances of parishes was taken on by finance councils. Priests, religious and laity began taking a serious look at their Catholic identity. The task of answering the questions that have emerged belongs to the total Christian community.
Today’s liturgy is a forceful reminder of the gift all Christians possess. We are, as the letter of Peter says, “a royal priesthood” called to “perform the same works” as Christ himself. Christians are called to celebrate life with the awareness of the entire Christian community. As the priest-presider relates to the Christian community, all Christians relate to the world. Those who share the role of priesthood share the responsibilities as well as the privileges of those who serve the Lord.
Believers are challenged to communicate a sense of God, a sense of Church and a sense of future to the community. All this is possible because the power of our message is spoken in the Word of Jesus communicated in the sacraments. This is the Word that comes from an experience of Jesus living in the Church.
Read in the light of the resurrection, today’s Gospel has a meaning that was not apparent to Jesus’ disciples. It should not surprise us that the same disciple who needed to be shown the wounds of the Risen Jesus would have been the one to react skeptically to Jesus’ assertion that he would come again. “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Thomas asks. Jesus responded, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Today’s Gospel is a story about faith and trust. This was Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples. He was consoling his disciples, reminding them that he was about to undergo his passion but also assuring them that he would return. “If it were not so, would I have told you?” Jesus asks.
“He who has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus says. To know and follow Jesus is to know and follow God. In the birth of a Child, heaven and earth became one. In the life of that Child, human work, joy, sorrow — and death, too — were made holy. Jesus is not merely a reflection or image of God. He is God and the thought is staggering.
This is, perhaps, the “sticking point.” As a Church, we are the body of Christ. It is our role to live like Christ lived, to show him to the world and to reveal God. Jesus invited his followers to look at his words and his works. Our very presence in the Church is an invitation to the world to judge us by the same things. “Look at us,” we say. “Hear the words we proclaim and the way we live.” All of this should lead people to Jesus.
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