Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jesus Gives History A Happy Ending

January 11, 2015
Feast of The Baptism of the Lord
 Click here for the complete text of today’s readings

Jesus Gives History A Happy Ending
My word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

By Baptism we “become Christ” (St. Augustine, Catechism of the Catholic Church 795). Every Christian says with Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul summed up the richness of Christian life in one phrase: “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

What Jesus is, we have become by Baptism. His life is ours and his mission is ours. He lives in us to act with us, in us and through us. This is the Christian mystery. To keep ourselves conscious of it is to maintain a constant mystical experience.

This gives ultimate meaning and value to human activity on earth. We are here for a purpose. It is not just to “save our souls” as individuals. It is not even to save the rest of the human race, although that comes second. Our purpose and first priority on earth is to give glory to God: Father, Son and Spirit.

The first thing Jesus taught us to pray for in the Our Father is that the Father should be known and loved: “Hallowed be your name!”

These were the priorities announced by the angels when Jesus was born. First: “Glory to God in the highest heaven”; and second: “on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!” (Luke 2:14).

The revelation of God’s glory is what John saw in the Incarnation: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The “glory of God” is what Jesus lived, died and prayed for: “So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed… Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:5, 24).

It is what Jesus said we are to live for: “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” And Paul wrote: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (Matthew 5:16; 1Corinthians 10:31).

The “glory of God” is not an abstract idea. It is a concrete undertaking that God “has made known to us… as a plan for the fullness of time.” It is “to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.” This is “the mystery of God’s will,” for which he “chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.”

What does it mean to “gather up all things in Christ”?

It means that “in Christ” everything God created will be “united,” “gathered up,” “summed up,” “recapitulated,” “brought together under a single head.” The whole redeemed human race will be united, “one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

And not only the human race, but all creation has been “groaning in labor pains until now,” waiting with “eager longing for the revealing of the children of God… for creation itself will be set free from its bondage… and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19).

The goal of all creation is the epiphany of Jesus himself “shining out” through all of humanity brought to the fullness of perfection in the Church, “which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-2). The “perfect man,” who is the goal of creation is the body of Christ, head and members: Jesus himself  “come to full stature” at the end of time.

Jesus is the “Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, the middle and the end of the mystery of God’s plan for creation.  This is the mystery of the “end time.” At the end, all mysteries are one mystery: the mystery of Christ—God in humans, humans in God—“brought to full stature.”

To realize this plan is our purpose in life; it is what we live and breathe for. In every celebration of Eucharist the Rite of Communion reminds us that this is the “blessed hope” that we who have “set our hope on Christ,” are working and waiting and longing for: “the manifestation (epiphanian) of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

God has equipped us to do this: “The gifts he gave were… for building up the body of Christ, until we all become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature” (Ephesians 4:11-13).

How do we do this? We do it by letting Christ do it with us, in us and through us:

1. by keeping aware of “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory”
2. by reading and reflecting on Scripture as disciples, “students” of God’s mind and heart
3. by bearing witness as prophets, by a lifestyle that cannot be explained without the Good News
4. by ministering as priests, making every interaction with others express faith, hope and love
5. by taking responsibility as “stewards of his kingship” for transforming society.

The mystery of our Baptism is that “it is no longer we who live, but it is Christ who lives in us.” The accomplishment of this goal is Christ’s final victory: “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will… see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory (Colossians 3:1).

As it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Corinthians 2: 9).

Even now, “All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another (2Corinthians 3:18).

We get up in the morning to “rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready… Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7). Jesus has “made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father… to him be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Revelation 1:6; Jude 25).

“Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.”

Pray all day: “Jesus, do this with me, in me, and through me.”

Practice: Do everything you do in a way that gives glory to God.

Discuss: How is God “glorified” in your family life? Social life? Work? Political involvement? How would you feel about any of these without Jesus?

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