Jesus Yesterday, Today, and Forever
SATURDAY, Easter week seven: May 14, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm tells us: “The just will gaze on your face, O Lord” (Psalm 11). And this is true of the face of the incarnate Jesus. Even after his ascension into heaven, we still see his face in the members of his risen Body on earth, those living by his divine life, in whom Jesus himself continues to live and act.
Acts 28: 16-31 is another confirmation of the fact that God achieves his ends even through the efforts people make to block them. Paul is sent as a prisoner to Rome, but there he is allowed to live in “rented lodgings, welcoming all who came to him. With full assurance, and without any hindrance whatever, he preached the reign of God and taught about the Lord Jesus.”
God was enabling him to do exactly what Jesus had commanded before his ascension into heaven: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations….” Paul spent two full years in Rome, the hub of Western civilization at the time, evangelizing “without any hindrance whatever.” The Psalm says, “The just will gaze on your face, O Lord,” and Paul certainly saw, if not his face, the hand of the Lord at work in his life. He saw Jesus’ promise fulfilled: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20).
John 21: 20-25 ends his Gospel with the words, “There are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
We allow for literary exaggeration: even if everything Jesus did during his lifetime were recorded, it would not take a very large library room to contain the books. But if we understand “Jesus” to include, not only the historical Jesus who lived for some 30 years, but also Jesus risen, the Jesus who, in spite of his ascension into heaven, remains present and active on earth, multiplied in all the members of his body on earth, then John’s statement approaches literal truth. One Scripture scholar explained that when the New Testament writers say, “Jesus said…” it often means “The risen Jesus, speaking in the Church, said….” All the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels were not spoken by him physically while he was on earth in the body he received from Mary. But they were spoken by him, and on earth, in the Body he received from people who, like ourselves, “offered their bodies as a living sacrifice to God” in Baptism to be his Body (Romans 12:1). We say, “The just will gaze on your face, O Lord,” and we do. We see his face in one another and hear his voice in the prophets.
Initiative: Be a prophet. Let Christ speak and act in you.