Friday, May 08, 2009

I Have Made You a Light

May 9, 2009

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'" Acts 13:46-47

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. John 14:10-11


Communion by Fiona Sampson

If I'm you, or you me—

Interpenetrating God—

enlarge our intimacy.

You who are animus

and blood—

who make me dust

from this table

blown into grass,


Is it you—or I—

I pass

and cannot see?


Last year, a book called The Last Lecture was all the rage. tells us that a lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." They are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

As Randy Pausch faced terminal cancer, his was not the first “last” lecture…nor will his be the last “last” lecture. Who delivered the first? Perhaps Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper should be considered in this light.

Jesus KNEW what cards he was dealt. Jesus KNEW what cards Judas was dealt. Jesus KNEW what cards Peter was dealt. Jesus KNEW this cup was not going to pass away from him. So, as he gathered his closest friends in the “lecture hall” after Passover Seder, he reached down deep and delivered the ultimate sermon right before he left to live it out.

We all know that Jesus instituted the sacrament of Communion at the Last Supper. So what does today’s reading tell us about Communion? The easy descriptive answer is that this sacrament is the little manufactured and blessed wafer and wine, the food and drink that become transubstantiated into the Body of Christ. But how can we go beyond the theology to the heart of the matter?

What is Communion? Jesus tells us in today’s reading. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. Jesus is in total and complete communion with the Father. The will of the Father is the action of Jesus. They are one. They are the same. If you see one, you see the other. Jesus is the Father. The Father is Jesus. Our leap of faith is to believe that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus.

The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.

But is does not end there. The Father also wants Communion with us. He does not just want to give us all that is good. He wants to dwell in us just like he dwells in Jesus. When the Father achieves true Communion with Jesus, His works are carried out. They have achieved perfect Communion. He has Jesus share with us an actual ritual through which the Father pursues us every day.

However, we have imperfect Communion. We keep slip-sliding away as forces of the world and our own selfish ego pull us apart from the Father. Pulled apart like Adam. Pulled away like the Prodigal Son. But our Father, our Abba will not let go.

The Father keeps reaching out to us like the great arm, hand and outstretched finger arching across the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Father keeps reaching out and offering us Communion through every Sunday Mass, through every daily Mass through every close encounter we have with Him through our sisters and brothers.

The Father tried the ultimate gift to get us started in total Communion. He placed us right close to Himself in His own garden. But we strolled away. The Father kept trying to pull us back. Saving us through Noah. Walking with us through Abraham. Bringing us home through Moses. Yet we continued to wander.

So if these other messengers did not succeed, he figured he would send his only Son into Communion with us. We still did not recognize Him. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? After three years, even his closest friends still did not experience total Communion.

Our faith journey is simply this: Living out and responding to God’s continuing call for us to experience Total Communion with Him just like he had with Jesus. But we are prisoners of our own ego and self-centeredness. Even if we reject God, God will continue to give away the gift of his Love. So, to set us free from prison, God provides a constant companion to help us break out of jail, empty out our own desires and unify our needs with God’s desires.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." John 14:15-18

Jesus tells us all this in his Last Lecture so that we will not fall away but attain total Communion with God. “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them." John 17:26


After this last lecture, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden. The rest is history and mystery. The rest is love in action. Rather than letting us destroy ourselves, God allowed us to destroy his Son in order to help us attain this union, real and actual, not just some mystical feeling, with the Father.

Merton teaches us that “Mystical union is a reality. It is a grace. It is part of the holiness of the Church, but the self that attains it is not the ego but a void in which the light of God…His Being and Love are manifested.” Communion is not just an outward sign reflected in that transformed bread and wine, in that Body and Blood. It is an act of love. But too often, we don’t make any room to allow God to dwell in us. Let’s make Him a little more space today.

Jesus lost everything to make space for us. In the end, he even lost the clothes off his back and the blood coursing through his sacred heart and veins. In the end, he left this world in the equivalent of the swaddling clothes in which he was wrapped in the manger.

Today, lose something (or give it away) so that God has a little more room in which to dwell with you and in you.

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