Sunday, September 10, 2017

Stretch Out Your Hand

For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus, we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

Stretch Out Your Hand.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up and stand before us."  Luke 6:7-8

Jesus of Nazareth invites you to a dinner to be held in his honor.

We might switch Gospels as we progress through the Liturgical Year. However, the perpetual conflict between most of the Pharisees and Jesus continues. Yet, as always, Jesus stays one step ahead of anyone who wants to plan his pre-mature demise.

Jesus does not even lift a finger on the Sabbath. All Jesus simply invites the man with the crippled hand to join Jesus at the altar.  “Come up and stand before us.”  Then, Jesus commands, "Stretch out your hand." When the man obeys Jesus, he is cured.

Stretch Out Your Hand.
This is not unlike the invitation we get in Mass to stand before the altar and receive the Lord himself. The promise is simple. Christ wants to be with us and wants to stay that way.

This was also Paul’s message to the people in Colossae. Paul’s preaching carries out the divine plan (the mystery) to make Christ known to the Gentiles. No longer is Christ Lord of only the Jews. Even in those communities that do not know him personally, Paul works to increase the awareness of God in Christ, to unite the faithful more firmly in love, and to encourage them. Paul hopes that his apostolic authority will make the Colossians perceive more readily the defects in the teaching of others who have sought to delude them so that they will reject the false teachers in favor of the Savior who wants to be with us.

Stretch Out Your Hand.
Everything leads to union and reunion with Jesus. While the Pharisees in the temple want to break up that relationship, they cannot outsmart the Lord. Paul extends the promised union with Jesus to all people through the end of the ages. The most important aspect of the Parousia for Paul was this fulfillment of the mystical union with Christ. The notes in the NAB explain that Paul warns that people will literally be snatched up and carried off to such a reunion. He does not say they will be kicking and screaming – but this does not sound voluntary.  

Are you ready for union with Christ? He is ready and waiting for us and our obedience.

How would you react to the invitation to the man with the crippled hand?  Jesus did not promise him healing. He only asked the man to join him, just like he asks us to accompany him and share his journey to the cross and beyond.
Stretch Out Your Hand.

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