WALKING along the Sea of Galilee one morning, I wondered how it was possible that Jesus was so rejected and even tortured and killed. I mean, here was One who not only loved, but was love itself: “for God is love.” 1 John 4:8 Every breath then, every word, every glance, every thought, every moment was imbued with Divine Love, so much so that hardened sinners would simply leave everything at once at the mere sound of his voice.
Once again he went out along the sea. All the crowd came to him and he taught them. As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him… (Mark 2:13-14)
He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:19-20)
This is the Jesus whom we need to reintroduce to the world. This is the Jesus who has been buried beneath a mountain of politics, scandals, corruption, division, infighting, schisms, careerism, competitiveness, selfishness, and apathy. Yes, I am speaking of His Church! The world no longer knows Jesus—not because they aren’t searching for Him—but because they can’t find Him.
HE LIVES AGAIN… IN US
Jesus isn’t revealed by cracking open textbooks, maintaining ornate buildings, or handing out pamphlets. Since His ascension into Heaven, He is to be found in that body of believers called Christ-ians. He is to be found in those who incarnate His words such that they are transformed into another Christ—not only in the imitation of His life—but in their essence. He becomes a part of them, and they a part of Him. “…so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” —Romans 12:5 This is a beautiful mystery; it is also what sets Christianity apart from every other religion. Jesus did not descend to earth in order to command our fealty and worship and appease a divine ego; rather, He became one of us so that we may become Him.
I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Here, in one sentence, Paul has summed up the entirety of God’s saving plan since the fall of Adam and Eve. It is this: God has loved us so much that He gave His life so that we may find ours again. And what is this life? Imago Dei: we are made in the “image of God,” and thus, in the image of Love. To find ourselves again is to find the capacity again to be loved, and then to love as we have been loved—thus restoring creation to its original harmony. After the fall, the first thing Adam and Eve did was hide. Since then, this has been the perpetual reflex of every human being, wounded as we are by original sin, to play hide and seek with the Creator.
When they heard the sound of the Lord God walking about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
They hid when they heard the sound of the Lord God. But now, through Jesus, we no longer need to hide. God himself has come to pluck us from behind the hedges. God himself has come to dine with us sinners, if we but let Him.
YOU ARE HIS VOICE
But Jesus no longer walks along the Sea of Galilee or the roads of Jerusalem. Rather, it is the Christian who is sent into the darkness, to walk among the world of souls who are hiding for one reason or another. Everyone, whether they know it or not, is waiting to hear the sound of the Lord God walking in their midst. They are waiting for you.
How can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” (Rom 10:14-15)
But the “good news” we bring is not a dead word; it is not an intellectual exercise or a mere “‘paradigm’ or ‘value’.” POPE JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano, March 24, 1993, p.3. Rather, it is a living, powerful, transformative Word that, for some, can turn their world around in a moment—just as it did a fisherman and a tax collector.
Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
However, when a Christian does not live what she preaches, does not allow this Living Word to penetrate even into his own soul, the edge of the sword can be dulled, and in fact, it is rarely removed from its sheath.
The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man. It risks being vain and sterile. —POPE ST. PAUL VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 76; vatican.va
I confess, I feel a certain resignation today. A cursory glance at the Church can only leave one with the conclusion that, aside from a deep and supernatural purification, nothing can restore her to the knowledge of both her dignity and mission. Yes, I think this is the hour at which we have arrived. Nonetheless, as my wife and I read the letters that have flooded our mailbox this week, we are deeply moved to see that there is a remnant of believers who want to follow Jesus. There is a remnant who are gathered right now in the Upper Room of Mary’s heart, awaiting a new Pentecost. It is you whom my heart is consumed with, who are imprinted into my very thoughts and prayers as I continually beg God to give us the “now word,” a living word that we may be faithful to Him.
And that word today is that we ought to take the Gospels seriously. We ought to uproot those things in our lives that are sinful and say “no more” to those temptations that have ruled us. Moreover, you ought to seek Him “with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind” Luke 10:27 so that He can have the freedom to change you from within. In this way, you will indeed become the hands and feet of Christ, the voice and the glance of your God.
What are you doing with your time, brother and sister? What are you waiting for Christian? For the world is waiting for you so that, they too, may find Jesus.
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|1.||↑||1 John 4:8|
|2.||↑||“…so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” —Romans 12:5|
|3.||↑||POPE JOHN PAUL II, L’Osservatore Romano, March 24, 1993, p.3.|