Saturday, May 06, 2017

To Whom Shall We Go?

Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed. Then he turned to her body and said, "Tabitha, rise up." She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. He gave her his hand and raised her up, and when he had called the holy ones and the widows, he presented her alive.  Acts 9:40-41

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." John 6:66-69

I am the bread of life
He who comes to me shall not hunger
He who believes in me shall not thirst
No one can come to me
Unless the father beckons
And I will raise you up(3)
On the last day.

The Resurrection Club is quite small but as we realize with today’s Good News, it is not just a club of One.  Counting Tabitha, Lazarus and Jesus, in all there are nine individuals clearly presented in the Bible as being raised from the dead. Of these miraculous resurrections, three occur in the Old Testament. At least three individuals were raised from the dead by Jesus. Both Peter and Paul raised a person from the dead and most importantly of all, Jesus himself was resurrected.[i]

Surprised?  You should not be.  More will be coming.

Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him the power to exercise judgment because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:25-29

Take a look around at Church tomorrow.  Are there as many people attending as you saw on Easter Sunday?  We all know that answer.  Like us, many of the disciples of old returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with Jesus. This is an issue still plaguing our Church and other faiths.  People walk away for a variety of reasons.

In “A Catholic World Fades Over a Lifetime,” Matthew Hennessey points out how he realized at his 89-year-old uncle’s funeral Mass, this “walking away syndrome” has become a deep problem.  He wrote in a column published by the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) Friday:

Only 22% of American Catholics attend weekly Mass, according to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. One thing that distinguishes Catholicism from other Christian denominations is the doctrine of transubstantiation. Yet in a 2010 Pew survey, 45% of Catholics said they weren’t familiar with church teaching that the consecrated bread and wine used during Communion are not mere symbols of Christ’s body and blood, but the real thing.

Catholics aren’t the only ones dealing with religious illiteracy. Pew found that 53% of American Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the man who inspired the Reformation. (Oddly, Jews, atheists, and Mormons were more familiar with Luther.) Fewer than 3 in 10 white evangelicals correctly identified Protestantism as the faith that believes in the doctrine of sola fide, or justification by faith alone.

Do we all need our Tabitha/Lazarus moment before we come back?  Does it take a personally witnessed miracle to get us in the pews on Sunday morning or any other day of the week?  The Prodigal Son only needed an examination of his own conscience.

Trying to stay in your comfort zone is a temptation.  Even when Peter decided to go back to fishing, Jesus was there to pull him out of the boat and back to shore to share the Last Breakfast. Perhaps this Easter season, we can be more like Peter and remain convinced that Jesus alone has the words of eternal life.  If we have wandered, it’s time to be prodigal.  

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