1 Peter 4:13-16
|May 31 - June 1, 2014, Seventh Sunday in Easter, Cycle A|
Waiting is one of the hardest things that we humans do, isn't it? Think about a time when you had to wait for something. Maybe you were waiting for the results of a test, or waiting for a response to your application to college, or to a job interview. Maybe you were waiting as a loved one was dying, or maybe you were waiting for a child to be born. How we wait depends a great deal on what our attitude, knowledge, and expectations are. Today we are liturgically celebrating what theologian Karl Barth called "God's significant pause", the ten days in between the Ascension and the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost. For those ten days, the world was without a physical presence of Jesus Christ. Jesus had gone out of the world himself, and the Church, the people of God who were to be the sacrament of Christ on earth, the physical manifestation of Christ here in the world, the Mystical Body of Christ, had not yet been born. In some ways these 10 days are symbolic of our waiting between Jesus' life here on earth, and the second coming of Christ.
So how do we wait? My current phone is a Motorola RAZR that I have had for about 2 years. I was very pleased with it until last fall. After a system update, the phone started slowing down until by December or so it was often unusable. I went online and found out that lots of people were complaining about the same thing. I tried a few of the things people suggested but nothing fixed the problem. The only suggestion I did not try was a factory reset; after all I didn't want to have to setup all my apps, configure the 4 email accounts I use, and the rest of my personalizations. I kept checking to see if Verizon had a fix, or Motorola, or even Google who at the time owned Motorola mobile. Finally about 2 weeks ago, I did the factory reset. It took me less than two hours to reload everything just the way I wanted it, and it works like new. The solutions was in my hands all along. As I was preparing for today's readings, it struck me that that this is how most of us are waiting for the coming of God's Kingdom. I am waiting for God to do something to fix this world.
Today's reading tell us 3 important things about our waiting. The first is that prayer is a critical part of that waiting. But I suggest it is a different kind of prayer from what we are used to. If you are anything like me, you most often pray by asking God for something pretty specific. We present to God our idea of how things should go and ask him to make it happen. I would like you to think of praying instead in a way that sensitizes our imagination so that it can see the Kingdom of God in the realities around us. Listen to the way that Jesus prays in that Gospel passage. His prayer is not one of petitioning, even though he is asking the Father to glorify him. His relationship to the father is such that he already knows that what he asks is granted.
The second thing is that we need to wait in community. Just as the apostles and Mary and the other disciples gathered together, we are called to a personal relationship with Christ but not a private one. The Gospels are very clear that Jesus locates salvation in the reconstituted chosen people of Israel he established in the disciples he gathered around him. It is primarily from this gathered people that Jesus sends us out on our mission to make disciples of all nations.
And the third thing is that by our Baptism, we are now given the mission to complete what Jesus came to start. Now that he is no longer in this world, as he reminds us in his prayer, we are the ones who must make God visible so that the whole world can eventually come to eternal life by knowing the Father and the one the Father sent.
We sang as our response to these readings: I believe that I will see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. Here and now, people. And we are the ones who are to make these good things of the Lord visible in the land of the living. Are we doing that? Peter warns us that doing this can lead to being reviled. If we are not being reviled for being Christian, is it because no one can tell? So let us pray in a way that our imaginations are opened to the signs of of the Kingdom here on earth. One of the most powerful ways of entering into this kind of prayer is by reading the scriptures, listening to that wonderful love story so that we can come to know the Father and the one whom he sent. Praying as Jesus does, with confidence that our Father hears us, and praying in community are the first steps to seeing what God's plan is.
That is why the parish is so important. It is the place where most of us can enter into this type of active waiting. Being Catholic is not about being good, or getting to heaven, or going to church regularly, as important as those things are. It is about building up the Body of Christ here in Stow in 2014 so that we can carry out our baptismal mission. That is the first call of everyone here, to build up this parish so that we might better incarnate God's love here on earth.
I would pray that we each look at how we are building up St. Isidore parish and as we move forward as disciples in mission, our collaboration with St. Elizabeth's. Do we do more than come to mass? Over the next few months we will be defining how this collaborative will become more effective evangelizers. It will take everyone's time and talent to make that happen. Let us pray our imagination into life, looking around at each other to see the image of God we are. Come to know the Father and the one whom he sent by loving your neighbor, the people you come in contact with every day, especially by getting involved with the building up of St. Isidore parish. And then truly we will all rejoice as we see Christ's glory revealed, here in the land of the living.