“It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.” — Acts 6:2
This weekend is the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The readings can be found here. The themes continue the story from Acts regarding the growth of the early Church and the inner transformation that is required of authentic Christianity as manifested by acts in the world.
This week’s reflection comes from Irish Jesuits. The full reflection can be found here but set forth below is an extended summary:
“Where does the Way go?
To follow the Way of Jesus is not to go anywhere. It is to become a special kind of person, a person whose whole being reflects the Truth and Life that Jesus reveals to us. It is to be a person who is totally identified with the vision and the values of Jesus. To be such a person is to be a person of Truth and Life.
Truth is here understood not in a purely intellectual sense. Truth here is that complete integrity and harmony which Jesus himself revealed not only in what he said but in the total manifestation of his life and person. Truth for Jesus was not just something he knew or accepted or believed in; truth for Jesus was what he was in his whole person: thoughts, feelings, actions, relationships. It was that total conformity between his inward self and his outward behavior. For us to live Truth in that way is also to be fully alive, to be a “fully-functioning person”, responding totally to that abundance of life which Jesus came to give us.
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Jesus, in his humanity, is but the palest reflection of the infinite Truth, Goodness and Beauty of God. When we see Jesus, we see God but… there is much that we do not see. And so we speak of Jesus as the Way. We go through him to find the total reality of God. A reality that mystics have been given glimpses of but which most of us will have to wait for until after we have left this earth. It is important that we understand this for I find that many people tend to speak rather loosely of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus. If we make Jesus, not the Way, but the End, we can find ourselves with a very reduced God. Philip thought he knew Jesus very well, spending every day with him. Yet he had not come to recognize God in the words and works of Jesus and so he did not really know Jesus.
God’s many dwelling places
Today, perhaps, our problem is not so much recognizing God in Jesus. In fact, as mentioned, we can go too far in doing so. Our problem is not being able to recognize God in the world and people around us. At the beginning of today’s Gospel, Jesus says that there are many “rooms”, many dwelling places in his Father’s house.
We can understand this, of course, as “heaven” but God’s dwelling is also the Church, every Christian community is a dwelling place of God. And indeed each and every disciple, who believes in Christ, is a part of God’s Temple. There is now no longer for us a material Temple. Furthermore, as Paul told the Romans, “ever since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and godhead, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made“. This is to say, that not only in Christian communities, but indeed in people everywhere and in the whole of our created environment, God’s presence is shouting out to us. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” wrote the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins. Every little flower, every singing bird can say to us, “Who sees me sees the Father”.