Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
Today, as well as the next two Sundays, focuses our prayerful attention on the celebration of Pentecost. The coming to life of Jesus leads to the coming to life of His early Church. It is helpful to recall that the term “church” was not in use then, but the term does flow from the word for “The Called” as by a bell. We prepare for the official birth of “The Called” at Pentecost by watching others being called and responding.
In today’s First Reading, we will hear of a little problem which two different groups of followers had with each other. The Greek and Jewish converts held some material things in common. As happens among human beings, the Greeks discovered that the needy in their community were getting less of the shared goods than the needy of the Jewish group.
The Apostles made a prudent decision. They had important other things to do so they ordained seven men of good faith, spirit and wisdom to tend to the material needs of “The Called.” The apostles would tend to the spiritual needs of praying and protecting the faith which was spreading quickly.
In today’s Gospel we will hear of a not-so-little problem which the Apostles have with the words Jesus is speaking here at the beginning of His Final Discourse. We hear Thomas and Philip dealing with what we call, “Abandonment Anxieties.” Jesus is speaking of a “going away” and this is a double meaning “going.”
They are gathered for the Passover celebration; He has washed their feet and John pictures Jesus beginning His little chat with them by telling them not to have troubled hearts. This must have gotten their attention quite quickly. Through the words of Jesus, though the writing of John are well chosen, the Apostles, who have also been well-chosen, only hear that He is going away. He tells them the comforting words of His return and His preparing a place for them. When He tells them that He is the “way” Thomas objects.
Philip, too, would like a little clarity from Jesus when he asks to have Jesus show them the Father and all questions would be answered. This question leads Jesus into a favorite theme of John’s narration and that is that to have seen Jesus is to have seen the Father. Jesus and the Father are One. Philip does not ask any more questions, though he must have had more.
The final two verses orient us a little more directly towards Pentecost. Great things will be done by those who believe, “because I am going to the Father.” His “going” will change His Body from a single physical structure to a mystical, yet still physical structure, “The Called.” The works and signs of this new Body of Christ will be done in the spirit, in faith, and in our time.
When I received Ordination, soon-to-be thirty years and counting now, my very own name was called and I vocally responded, “I am here.” At the Easter Vigil, women and men were called by name and they responded in similar words. When there is a marriage, names are called out and similar words of readiness are spoken. We are all ordained by the Sacraments; we are “The Called.”
We, as the seven men called to do the holy works, are ordained by each sacrament to do the “greater” works of simple service the “Christ-done deeds.” I was told by the ordaining Bishop to “be as holy as the actions you perform.” Was there any action, great or small, in the life of Jesus which was not holy? Each of us is invited; “called” by each sacrament to do Christ’s works which are holy thereby. The actions we perform are as holy as the actions He performed, but as with Thomas and Philip, we have questions for clarification. Our human problem is with the sacredness of the familiar. The “sacred” ought to be special, occasional, difficult. Jesus talked, touched, listened to, care for, and all of the other human things which were those same things we do.
If Jesus is the “way” and we are “The Called” then His ways in doing the usual, are the “ways” to which we are “called.” We are the “called,” those who say “I am here.” We are those who tend to the prayers and the needs of those who pray for help. We believe are blest to be blessings.
“I am the vine and you are the branches, says the Lord; he who lives
in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. Alleluia..”
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