Sunday, April 22, 2012

Accomplish the Works

Accomplish the Works

April 23, 2012

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.  Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.  Acts 6:8-10

Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.  Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.   For on him the Father, God, has set his seal."   So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?"  Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."  John 6:26-29


The following prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests.  As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.”

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.



Stephen was working wonders.  Jesus had just fed thousands.  Yet when the disciples asked what they can do to accomplish the works of God, the answer probably surprised them.  Believe.  Have faith.  Do not work for food which perishes. 

Jesus did not tell them directly to wash the feet of those around them.  He did not tell them to forgive sins.  He did not tell them to preach.  He told them to Believe.  

The first step along our journey is faith.  However, faith is not the last step.  Faith leads us to a life also filled with piety.  Faith leads us to a life also filled with study.  Faith leads us to a life also filled with action.  But, without faith in the one God sent, then all we have is works.  Stephen's works would not have been bothersome to the church leaders had he not also talked about the changes (repentance) needed following the lessons of Jesus. 


"What can we do to accomplish the works of God?"  

Make sure your good works are built upon a foundation of faith.  You can feed people in a restaurant and they will go way satisfied.  However, those loaves and fishes will mean much more when you perform this action out of love of God and love of your neighbor or love of a stranger. 

This week, new "Cursillo-istas" have emerged from the Men's 124th weekend.  Welcome them into your parish community and invite them to share in group reunion.  Feed them and those around you with the food that endures.  

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