Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday word, 20 Apr 2008

Easter Sunday5 (20 Apr 2008) Ac 6. 1-7; Ps 33; 1Pt 2.4-9; Jn 14. 1-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Before and After

The season of Easter allows us to savor Jesus’ new presence with his apostles and also with us. Jesus was straightforward about his promise: I will take you to myself, that where I am you may also be. Because the first half of today’s gospel is frequently selected for funerals, that and daily experience suggest two questions: Is this being-with-Jesus now? Or, is it after our deaths? The answer is, “Yes!” to both.

To us, limited to time and space, imagining risen Jesus as absolutely unlimited so that he is present at each moment does not come readily. Yet Jesus continually taught, touched and tarried with people in powerful ways that appealed more to imagination, heart and depth of feelings than to what we may call head knowledge. Intellect is important, but intellect shaped by feeling, heart and soul is more important. When we allow Jesus to shape our feeling, heart and soul, our knowing becomes more humane and truly Christian.

Jesus was a real person who lived at a real time and in real places we locate on maps: Palestine; Judaea; Jerusalem; the Upper Room. The Fourth Gospel offers a more important, more real geography centered on God. It named its coordinates: the world and the house of Jesus’ Father; below and above; dark and light; death and life. Jesus, in today’s scene, announced another coordinate: I am going to the Father, which is light years removed from where his opponents refused to leave; or in Jesus’ earlier words to them: Where I am going you cannot come.

Of course maps, like treasure maps or trip-tiks, are not the point. Jesus invites us beyond the confines of maps and encourages us to adopt a way of thinking and imagining both the world and his Father’s house, to which Jesus welcomes his faithful disciples; imagining both our limited existence here and now and Jesus with his Father, prepar[ing] a place for us with him.

Jesus’ risen life welcomes us into his relationship with God, whom he called his Father. Relationship is key. Jesus focused relationships forever: Jesus’ relation with God, whom he called Father; with the world--grand symbol of opposition to God’s abode; with his disciples--his family not limited or defined by blood or ethnicity.

Jesus’ relationship and prayer with his disciples took place at two moments: before his resurrection and after it. Before his glorious resurrection his disciples had limited understanding of Jesus and his words. Their imagination was not supple; it was earthbound: shadows shrouded it; and death seemed the bitter end. After his glorification their imagination soared; their memories of his words were clear; their broken hearts were healed; and they recognized him present in the power of his Spirit, who Jesus breathed on them.

Those coordinates of the world; below; dark and death did not vanish. The disciples were acutely aware that more than those existed. Places Jesus was preparing for them; above; light; and his risen life, unlimited and unending, were not only theirs. Jesus’ risen life set them on mission to communicate that life to others and to be channels to others of his gift to them of himself and his Spirit.

During Easter hearing the Acts of the Apostles, the portrait of the beginning church discovering its sense of self and mission, reminds us that Jesus’ self-gift to us of himself and his Spirit 1) shape our way of thinking and 2) encourages us to deepen our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer so that we can communicate our Creator and Redeemer to others. Healthy communication--in speech; friendship; mutual support; faith sharing; sharing resources--helps us find God more easily, hear God more clearly and follow God’s lead more readily. That is each one’s mission. It also is helps us bring others into Jesus’ presence here and now.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, first enter into the more real coordinates of the Trinity, creating you in love, calling you friend, and empowering you with Jesus’ Spirit. Ask the disciples to present you to Jesus so that you may converse with Jesus. Name the gifts with which Jesus has blessed you, and tell Jesus how you use them and how you can use them better. Using our gifts better to build up others is our loving response to God who creates us, redeems us and glorifies us at each moment. Close your 15 minutes by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which both keeps us in God’s presence and guides us on our mission which Jesus began by rising from the dead.

Wiki-images of Jesus and the apostles in Tiffany glass and of El Greco's Resurrection are in the public domain.

No comments: