Sunday, May 01, 2016

Keep My Word

Originally Published on May 5, 2013, and May 9, 2010

Sixth Sunday of Easter C

By the Late Rev. Joe McCloskey, SJ

“So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.    If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right.   Farewell.’”  Acts 15:27-29

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.    Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.”  John 14:23-24

The Last Supper of Christ captures the essence of the message of Christ. The word that rings down through the ages and is echoed in every Eucharist is “Love.” Christ captures our hearts by giving us his Body and his Blood. Christ gives us the perfect example of what love is all about by not holding back. He gives all of the self. The totality of self-giving is modeled in Eucharist. The Commandments are “the what” of Love. God makes us free. We love God when we freely return all of ourselves to God. Commandments spell out the how to do it. The question is validly put. “How can you love the God you do not see if you do not love the neighbor you do see?” Love is measured out in how we love our neighbor as our self. Christ says it neatly. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. The Spirit teaches us how to love and makes our love possible with the 7 gifts; wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, (which are the gifts of the mind) and piety, fortitude and fear of the Lord (which are the gifts of the heart). The interplay of the gifts of the Spirit gives us the fruits of the Spirit which are the makeup of our love for one another.

Jesus does not return in the Resurrection with the same old body that he had from Mary.   He returns with the resurrected body.   His humanity has been touched by the divinity and the fullness of his humanity has form.   He arrives with all the wonderful things he has done in his life focused on the good news that his life was worth living.  And he has the truth of all that he ever said in the simplicity of the peace he gave his Apostles in the fullness of the forgiveness that made them know they were forgiven for having betrayed him.   The wounds of his passion are now glorious in his resurrection.  Thomas can put his finger on the nail wounds that are part of this resurrected body and he can put his hand into his side.   He can believe.   It is really Christ who eats a meal with them so that food was appreciated without the terrible hunger that can drive one to eat beyond what they need.   Piety has a real meaning in the resurrected Christ who is the best of all of us even as he is the best of himself.   

We study the Resurrection of Christ because life has its meaning in Christ.   He reveals to us our destinies.   We have the power to forgive sins because Christ offers us his life even as he augments our gifts with the meanings of life he gives us.   The Father wants us to make Christ real in our lives.   The best part of us is already in heaven in Christ.   We are the continuation of his life on earth in all the good things that we do with our lives.  Wherever we go, we bring Christ.   He lives on in us even as we live in him.   We know him in the breaking of the bread because real love involves sharing his meal with him as he in the very same act shares his life with us.   We are the Mystical Body of Christ.   He has no feet but ours.   He has no hands but ours. 

How we live out our Christianity is taught by the Church. Teachings that do not make sense need to be questioned against the light of the Spirit which is reflected through consulting the Church. It is Christ that we are following. When someone comes along with a teaching that does not fit what we have been taught we need to consult with the apostles and the elders of the church about such questions that trouble our spirit. When the teachings of the Church become too complicated it is important to consult with those who are the teachers recognized by the church by their wisdom and the richness of their experience. The Universal Church is an expression of the many cultures of our world and how the teachings of Christ are best expressed by local cultures. There is simplicity in the teachings of love that asks us to love the people that are and the church has learned from its mistakes and its saints how to express the richness of Christ in the local culture. The inculturation of the Church in local cultures gives expression to the differences in people. How we love one another grows as the relationship to Christ becomes the model of human love turned into God love. The Father and Christ come to us with the Spirit to give us our God life on the local scene.

The challenge of the Resurrection is to live our lives as if we were not meant for our world.   Even as we live the touch of the divine in our lives by God being part of our love whenever we love, he gives us our lives.   How we love is the masterpiece of our lives.  How we use the gifts of our lives is how we make real the Christ of our hearts.   Love is what makes our world go round.   Our efforts to make our world a little neater become his efforts when we do what we do in his name.   Our vocations in life are to be contemplatives in Action.   That means that we work in such a way that Christ is a hundred percent of all that we do.   Our Gospel says that what was written is so that we can believe.   Christ did so much more than what is written that his disciples were not able to share with us.   He likewise does so much more in our lives that we are unaware of that if we were to give credit to the wonders of creation around us we would not have time to go on living.   Eternity is the missing part of all that we do. 

The sign of the action of the Spirit in our lives is the peace that comes with closeness to Christ. Those that are sent in the name of Christ bring peace by their coming. When authority is misused it destroys the love people are meant to have for one another. How Christ operates in our lives is seen by the growth in the fruits of the Spirit in each of us. How we build up the local Church is seen in how well we work with one another to bring out the best of all of us. Hopefully, we have all learned by the mistakes of the past how to honor the good that is done and how to approve of the differences that bring greater freedom and local involvement of people in the Church. Protecting the garments of a frigid climate without an appreciation of the local conditions of a hot climate brought death to Trappists who first came to this country from Europe in their mistaken zeal to hold onto garments of a cold climate without making the adaptations that made living possible. There will always be unacceptable forms of the Chinese Rite controversy that ended a birthing Church by making a mockery of what Christ’s love is all about. Forgiveness and love have to kiss if we are to avoid zero tolerance and a terrible injustice done to Christ’s love and forgiveness of the Women taken in adultery. Zero tolerance is a terrible put down on Christ love for people that are trying to change and to grow in love for one another. See how they love one another needs to be a reality of the Church once again. It is love that makes change possible.

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